Monday, April 09, 2007

The Vatican Threatens to Sue Indymedia

The Vatican Threatens to Sue Indymedia

The photomontage at the heart of the trial is a satirical composition published on the Italy Independent Media Center site in April 2005. IMC, or Indymedia, is a global network of open publishing websites, where readers can publish news and opinion, established in 1999 to cover the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. The photomontage is an anonymous contribution by one of the site users and puts the face of the Pope Benedict XVI to the body of a Nazi officer. The picture is accompanied by following comment, which the Italian Public Department considered offensive: "Nazi pope - happiness to all the faithful. After the anti-communist reactionary, now comes the ultra-reactionary Nazi."

rat zinger nazi pope indymedia

The satire is clearly a composition that ridicules and criticizes persons and institutions by means of funny exaggeration. The right of satire is one of the foundations of the freedom of expression and press, and is what guarantees that all papers and magazines carry cartoons and caricatures on their pages every day. As an exaggeration, satire is always based on some elements of truth that are then maximised, aiming for a funny effect. In the case of the Pope photomontage, the truth element is that Pope Benedict XVI was member of the Hitler Youth in Germany when he was 14, as well as the fact that his politics, as Mayor of the Faith Doctrine Congregation during John Paul II rein, was considered ultra-conservative. The cartoon does not have as its object the Catholic faith but, rather, the political orientation of the person in charge of the Papacy, as highlighted in the comment.

Despite the fact that the photomontage contains all the elements that qualify as a satire and, therefore, should be protected by the laws that defend the freedom of expression, the Italian Public Department used an article of the Italian penal code that criminalizes the "contempt of a minister of the Catholic faith", Catholicism being the "state religion" there.

However, the jurisprudence established in Italy already regards as outdated and illegitimate the argument that fuses State and Religion. That means that the core argument that substantiates the solicitation of the letter of request is questionable in its own country of origin.

Although Indymedia is not the author of the post concerned, the maintenance of the page where it is published is to us a question of principles. We believe that the photomontage is a satirical criticism of the political positions assumed by the Pope during his ecclesiastical career and that attorney Salvatore Vitello is criminalizing a publication based on outdated articles of the Penal Code, especially that this very Penal Code has recently had substantial changes to its writing.

The letter of request sent to the STJ is based on a judicial agreement of mutual cooperation between Brazil and Italy which limits this cooperation to predicted cases in the legislation of both countries and to crimes that are not of a political nature. However, the Brazilian law does not offer special protection for the ministers of the Catholic faith. Further, the letter of request, although claiming the trial is not of political nature, does highlight that the Independent Media Center website is the "expression of the information circuit of the antagonist left".

It is pretty obvious that the trial is going to restrict the freedom of expression and is politically motivated. It is trying to silence satirical criticism, published on a leftist site, about the political positions of the new pope. We expect the Minister entrusted by the trial in the Superior Court to have the same understanding. We also expect that the Brazilian civil society, as we as the international community, would express their opposition to this attempt by the Italian attorney to silence any criticism of the controversial political orientations of the Catholic Pope.

Recently, the request for filing the case was sent to the Italian Judicial authorities by the Italian Public Department itself. However, the request letter sent to Brazil is still being processed by the Federal Justice.



  1. You taunt "Who did we murder?" - First of all, if you are Protestant chances are your Church

    has fashioned itself in the image of the Vatican's ancient proven knowledge of how to

    ensnare and keep things secret behind that persisting veil kept in place by lying

    suppressive/oppressors. You represent the false prophet accusing Vatican Rome, yet you side

    with her spiritually adulterous ways to increase and hoard cash flow through tax-exemption.

    THIS IS NOT RIGHT!! This is not separation of Church and state, and I rather that this

    issue came before Miss California, but I think it will be next. Steven Scrowder lied to me

    about not removing this very subject from his YouTube page. who should you follow; people

    who find it necessary to lie, censor and cast stumbling blocks, or people who find it

    necessary to be open and fearlessly honest of heart in the face of such brutal suppression?

    I am no longer a single individual but one of many bringing 'locus standi' to a safe place.


    YOU are the ONLY source of group oppression on this earth. Wherever peoples are oppressed

    we will find a government established religious
    tax-funnel on the other end of the shit stick. ALL of you people who will remain in that G

    -damned economy-sucking gang of thieves who freely slander and plunder others WILL KNOW that

    that dreaded day will merely be a day for individuals to determine not to strife people on

    the cheek, and the for the organizations a day of judgment for cutting heads off, and

    burning people at the stake, or burning them through their venomously guarded and uttered

    words that bring reproach upon their scapegoats.

    Fall Babylon! Fall you old Harlot of Hearts and Minds and Spirits. You do so for selfish

    gain and nothing more! FALL!! I pray forever and endeavour to see that YOU WILL BECOME A

    WIDOW - that you will be left to die at the altar alone!!

    Now rise up and come away my beloved, for ours IS a brighter day, but darkness and great

    sorrow lies in store for the kingdom of the BEAST also!

  2. Screen Capture Meta data May 24 2009 3:20PM Pacific Time.


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