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Vatican Withdraws Suit Seeking to Block Stained Image of Pope

August 30, 2012

The Vatican dropped a lawsuit that sought to block publication of a German satirical magazine cover showing Pope Benedict XVI with a waist-level stain on his gown.

The Holy See withdrew the legal challenge against Titanic Verlag GmbH, according to a statement today on the website of the Catholic German Bishops Conference. A hearing scheduled for tomorrow at a Hamburg court won’t take place, the court said.

Titanic had featured an image of the white-garbed pontiff with his arms stretched out above a yellow stain as part of a spoof of a Vatican leaks scandal in its July edition. A caption read: “Hallelujah at the Vatican -- the leak has been found!”

The pope won an injunction against the publication after claiming the cover was a violation of his personal rights, Titanic said on its website. The staff of the satirical monthly continued with a protest in Hamburg, the magazine said.

The Bishops Conference added that while Benedict revoked the challenge, “further legal measures are being examined to effectively counter attacks on the dignity of the pope and of the Catholic Church,” according to the statement.

“We view ourselves in the tradition of Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei and Margot Kaessmann, who all found justice in the end,” Titanic’s editor, Leo Fischer, said in a statement on the website. The first two references are to the philosopher- astronomers, who were respectively executed and silenced by the church in the 17th century. The latter is to the first woman to head Germany’s largest protestant church, who resigned in 2010 after being pulled over by police for drunk driving.

“Whether it took 500 years or five months is meaningless in the face of eternity,” Fischer said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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