BERLIN, Germany — Pope Benedict XVI has taken a German satire magazine to court over a cheeky cover that took the so-called "Vatileaks" literally.
Titanic, a monthly known for its irreverent approach to current affairs and public figures, has been forced to pull its current issue from the shelves after lawyers representing His Holiness obtained a temporary injunction, Spiegel Online reported.
The offending picture – which we're not allowed to publish under the terms of the ban – shows the pope wearing a white cassock which is soiled at crotch level. On the front cover, the stain is yellow; on the back cover, it's brown.
The headline reads: "Hallelujah in the Vatican: The leak is found!"
The image "oversteps every measure of decency," Matthias Kopp, a spokesperson for the German Bishops' Conference, told the Spiegel.
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Titanic's editor-in-chief, Leo Fischer, insisted that they'd taken it the wrong way.
"Benedict must have misunderstood us," he said in a statement on the magazine's website. Fischer claimed the cover showed the pope celebrating after the resolution of the Vatileaks scandal and, in his jubilation, spilling a glass of soda over himself.
"Everyone knows how much the Pope likes Fanta," Fischer said.
As of Wednesday, the Titanic website greeted visitors with a new version of the picture showing the Pope unsoiled and carrying two enormous bottles of Fanta, with the strapline: "Pope intoxicated with joy!"
The German Journalists' Association defended the montage as a legitimate piece of satire, albeit of questionable taste. "Even the Pope has to put up with satire," chairman Michael Konken said in a statement.
Titanic plans to appeal against the injunction, Fischer told the Deutsche Presse Agentur.
Meanwhile, the controversy doesn't seem to have done the deliberately provocative magazine much harm. Tens of thousands of copies had already been sold by the time the injunction came, Fischer said, some of which are now being resold on the internet for four times the usual price.