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Austin Cline

Nazi Pope: Italian Website Offends Catholic Religion

By May 8, 2005

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By now everyone knows about how Pope Benedict XVI was a member of the Nazi Youth. Critics of the pope have been using this against him in satire and this has begun to outrage defenders of Joseph Ratzinger's past. It's even led to calls for censorship.

Yahoo News reports on problems in Italy where a Photoshopped image has been created putting the face of Benedict XVI on the body of someone wearing a Hitler Youth uniform:

Rome prosecutors accuse the Indymedia Italia site, which is part of a network of alternative media websites, of causing offense to the Catholic religion by publishing the photo montage alongside the caption "Nazi pope". Under Italian law, the offense is punishable by up to one year in jail.

Italy's largest press union, FNSI, slammed the decision as an "unacceptable attack on critical and satirical freedom".

"Indymedia publishes without any form of censorship any kind of electronic message -- that is the basis of its editorial policy," said the FNSI's secretary general, Paolo Serventi Longhi.

The image, located here, is definitely offensive to pious Catholics but why should that be a reason censor it? Should the government step in and defend Catholics against having their religious sensibilities offended every time some political satirist comes up with a shocking image?

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