TORONTO, ON November 17, 2011 – In recent days, clothing giant Benneton issued an advertising poster showing doctored photographs of world leaders kissing one another, including a photo of Pope Benedict with an Egyptian imam. Others feature U.S. President Barack Obama kissing Chinese President Hu Jintao, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy kissing his German counterpart, Angela Merkel. (See AP story).

“The manipulation of photos of world leaders is outrageous, especially in a commercial promotion,” said Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “While the company acted properly in removing the ads, it did so only after a strong protest and threat of legal action from the Vatican, and only after it had gained the considerable publicity the company was seeking. We only wish the protests of Catholic leaders were taken seriously more often.”