The Catholic Church in Brazil has threatened to sue the Italian state broadcaster after it ran an advert featuring the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer wearing an Italian Football shirt. Rio de Janeiro Archdiocese believes the depiction is “blasphemous” and may seek damages in excess of £4m, according to the Local.
The advert ran on Rai to promote its World Cup coverage but the Church was unimpressed, claiming it was “exploiting the image of Christ the Redeemer”, which it claims is a crime. The advert features children playing football in the streets, then cuts to the statue with the Italy shirt digitally added. The slogan at the end reads “Brazil awaits us”.
However the Archdiocese, which owns the rights to the image of the statue compared the “disrespectful” gimmick to “Brazilian TV making an advert in which mulatto girls engaged in indecent behaviour with the gladiators of the Colosseum.”
Alessandro Maria Tirelli the lawyer who notified the broadcaster of the potential for a lawsuit said: “The archdiocese feels outraged.”
Edio Costantini, the president of the Vatican sports club said: “We live in a world that has put God on the bench… At a time when religious values seem to have become insignificant and everything is commercial, it’s right to feel indignation, even with an act of force”.
Rai have now withdrawn the advert amidst complains in both Brazil and Italy, which are two of the most staunchly Catholic countries in the world. A spokesman for Rai said: “We will examine the matter, but for now decline to comment.”
Across Europe most of the mainstream media have no objection to showing images that blaspheme Christianity, however it is considered offensive to do anything blasphemous against the Muslim faith. As result mocked up images of Christ are not uncommon, whereas the 12 Danish Mohammed cartoons sparked outrage.
This has led to allegations of double standards amongst the European media establishment.