PETA campaign slammed by rights league

  • December 8, 2010
The Catholic Civil Rights League has strongly denounced a spaying and neutering campaign by an animal rights group that depicts Pope Benedict XVI brandishing a condom.

In a campaign launched Dec. 2 in the Vatican, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began handing out their “Pope Condom campaign leaflets.” PETA said the campaign will be taken to cathedrals and churches across the United States.

League executive director Joanne McGarry slammed the anti-Catholic overtones of the leaflet and called the campaign in poor taste.  

“To alter the photograph of any public figure by putting a personal product into their hands is in bad taste,” said McGarry in an e-mail to PETA. “In this case, it can also be interpreted as an effort to mock Catholic teaching.

“It’s unlikely that you would take a similarly free hand with other religions, but singling out Catholicism in a negative way never seems to lose its appeal. It’s too bad that a good message about animal welfare is lost under all the bad taste. You’ve already lost one animal lover and will probably lose many more.” .

PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich told The Register the campaign was not meant to mock the Pope or Catholic teachings.

“The Pope is a compassionate man who has spoken out for animals in the past (and) has a famous fondness for cats,” Friedrich said from Washington, D.C.

“We’re using his image to prevent unnecessary suffering which is a key Catholic Catechism point.”

Friedrich said the group has received mainly positive responses and “drummed up some controversy which is obviously good for us.”

Messages left on PETA’s web site indicate outrage at their tactics.

“Your misuse of the Pope’s image is contemptible and illegal. Stop it,” wrote one person.

Another said the campaign crosses a line. “Would you ever choose to feature a Jewish rabbi or Muslim imam in your ad if that man had taken a position with which you disagree? Your organization is taking an anti-Catholic position.”

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