Vatican threat over Benetton’s kissing pontiff ad

THE Vatican has said it will take legal action against the Benetton fashion company to prevent future publication of an advertisement featuring a photomontage of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian imam on the lips.

Another ad shows US president Barack Obama kissing China’s Hu Jintao.

The Vatican said the image was “offensive to the dignity of the Pope and the sensibilities of believers”.

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Benetton took down the ad immediately on Wednesday in cities including Paris, above. It had said its “Unhate” campaign was aimed at fostering tolerance. It featured mock-ups of purported enemies kissing. The photo of the Pope kissing Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb of Cairo’s al-Azhar Institute, the top school of Sunni Islam, was pulled about an hour after the protest.

Al-Azhar halted talks with the Vatican after Benedict called for protection for Egypt’s minority Christians.

A Vatican spokesman said of the ad: “It shows a serious lack of respect.”