Vatican protests Benetton ad showing pope kissing imam

VATICAN CITY Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:24pm EST

People stroll in front of the Benetton store in downtown Rome November 16, 2011.  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

People stroll in front of the Benetton store in downtown Rome November 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Wednesday protested to Italian clothing firm Benetton over its use of an image of Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth in its latest shock advertising campaign.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi called the unauthorized and "manipulative" use of the pope's picture in the photo montage "totally unacceptable" and suggested it might take legal action against the company.

"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," he said in a statement.

A large banner with the image of the pope and the imam was hung from a bridge near the Vatican on Wednesday morning before it was removed.

Other photo montages in the same campaign, in which Benetton says it supports the Unhate Foundation, show other world leaders kissing each other on the mouth.

President Barack Obama is shown kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in one.

The Italian clothing company has run controversial advertising campaigns in the past, including one that showed grieving parents at the bedside of a man dying of AIDS.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (3)
respect4all wrote:
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,” he said in a statement.

is this not free right of speech

Nov 16, 2011 4:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Drrock wrote:
Perhaps I think its a tadd much to use the pope in the ad campaign!!! Disrespectful.(my own opinion).The rest of them=a welcome giggle!!!

Nov 17, 2011 7:11am EST  --  Report as abuse
B17 wrote:
Here we have the predictable Vatican rage but where is the Muslim rage?! It isn’t everyday that an Imam plants one on the Pope. Why don’t we make it even more objectionable to rag heads by having the Pope plant one on Muhammad .

Nov 22, 2011 11:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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