A Vatican lawsuit is in the works against Italian fashion label Benetton for publishing an ad that shows Pope Benedict XVI kissing an Islamic leader, Ahmed Mohamed el Tayeb, the imam of the al Azhar mosque in Egypt. The Vatican is upset about the doctored photo because it “offended” the Pope’s dignity, the Catholic church and the “sensibilities of believers.”
Vatican Lawsuit Does Not Support Unhate
Specifically, the image is a product of Benetton’s “Unhate” Foundation, which promotes tolerance and fights hatred. The foundation’s “Unhate” campaign has also targeted U.S. leaders like President Obama. There’s a doctored photo of Obama kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and of the president kissing Chinese President Hu Jintao. Obama’s likely to take the image in stride, and he may even joke about it. The Catholic church, however, doesn’t share Obama’s sense of humor. The Vatican lawsuit is concrete proof of that.
Catholic Church Doesn’t Like “Commercial Ends”
Part of the Vatican lawsuit includes a statement condemning Benetton for not only manipulating an image of the Holy Father, but also exploiting the Pope for a publicity campaign that will give them financial gain. Benetton apologize for the photo and agreed to pull it. They defended their actions by saying they were trying to battle hatred. Instead, it looks like they’ve actually created more.
While the “Unhate” campaign has good intentions, the Vatican probably isn’t the best example to use for tolerance. Alessandro Benetton, son of the founder of the family controlled and the company’s deputy chairman, aptly showed his naÃ¯vete when he said he didn’t expect any complaints and certainly not a Vatican lawsuit because according to him, “It means not hating. In a moment of darkness, with the financial crisis, what’s going on in North African countries, in Athens, this is an attitude we can all embrace that can have positive energy.”