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Thursday
Nov172011

After Pressure from Vatican, Benetton Pulls Controversial Pope Ad

Fabrica(PARIS) -- The Vatican got its way on Wednesday after threatening to sue United Colors of Benetton for a digitally altered photo the international clothing retailer used in an ad that shows Pope Benedict XVI kissing Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb of Egypt on the lips.

Benetton promptly pulled the ad and issued an apology, saying, "the use of the image of the pope and the imam has so offended the sentiments of the faithful.  In corroboration of our intentions, we have decided, with immediate effect, to withdraw this image from every publication."

The image was part of Benetton’s "UNHATE" campaign -- launched Wednesday in Paris -- to promote tolerance.  However, the Vatican didn't particularly tolerate the photo of Benedict locking lips with a cleric, calling it a "totally unacceptable" show of "grave disrespect."

Other figures used in the Benetton campaign include President Obama kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smooching Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The White House expressed displeasure with the photo of Obama but won't sue, although it does object to the use of the president's image for commercial purposes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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