German Catholics Blow Their Top Over Magazine Cover
The German satirical magazine Titanic is being crucified, in a manner of speaking, for its April cover. The cover story "Kirche Heute" ("The Church Today") is illustrated with a priest kneeling before a rather large crucifix. In the midst of the worldwide Catholic church sex abuse scandal, it seems that many who have viewed the new magazine cover see more than just prayer in the image, and they think that sucks. More than one hundred complaints have been lodged with the German Press Council, and two additional complaints against the magazine have been lodged with the Frankfurt Public Ministry claiming incitement to hatred, a serious charge in Germany. Leo Fischer, the editor-in-chief of Titanic, coyly claims not to understand the controversy (sound familiar?), stating, "That cover? You only see a priest praying in front of Christ. I am pleased to say that we have many Christians among our readers." Of course, the magazine's subtitle "The authorized newspaper for blasphemers" ("Pflichtblatt für Gotteslästerer") might suggest otherwise, but then again, as we have seen throughout history, being a Christian and a blasphemer are not mutually exclusive.
For those readers—Christian and otherwise—who want to study the image a little more closely or send it along to friends, family, or colleagues, Titanic is selling postcards and posters of the image. While what may actually be happening in this particular cover may be open to interpretation, the magazine may find it difficult to defend itself against all of the official complaints. Another set of postcards produced previously by the caricaturists at Titanic asks the question: "Does Jesus Play Another Role?" ("Spielt Jesus noch eine Rolle?). Accompanying this, perhaps, rhetorical question are six other possible roles for J.C.: toilet paper dispenser, bottle opener, desk organizer, door stop, coat rack, and traffic signal (see below). As many could and probably will point out, it becomes difficult to defend yourself against certain charges when there is an obvious history of the same sort of behavior. Hmmm.
In the meantime, the Frankfurt Public Ministry will make a decision next week on whether or not there are grounds to pursue the charges of incitement to hatred. For its part, the German Press Council will weigh in on the hundred or so complaints it has received next month. We're sure that however the government institutions and the magazine choose to pontificate on this affair, it'll be a mouthful.