Last Thursday, the Vatican vowed to take legal action to put an end to Italian fashion firm Benetton’s advertisement showed Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth. The photo has been publicized throughout Rome, and hung in places such as a bridge near the Vatican and a store window at Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
Part of the firm’s newest shock campaign, the photo can be found on the internet, as can many others of world leaders kissing each other, including President Barack Obama kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The Vatican’s statement said the ad was “damaging not only to the dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers.”
Benetton then said it would withdraw the advertisement after the Vatican’s initial accusations which called the photo montage “manipulative” and claimed that the firm had no right to use it in the way.
“This is a grave lack of respect for the pope, an offence against the sentiments of the faithful and a clear example of how advertising can violate elementary rules of respect for people in order to attract attention through provocation,” said Father Federico Lombardi.
In the statement announcing the ad’s withdrawal, Benetton said the campaign’s purpose was “exclusively to fight the culture of hate in every form,” however, it had decided to withdraw the image.
“We are sorry that the use of an image of the pontiff and the imam should have offended the sensibilities of the faithful in this way,” the statement read.