Vatican Condemns Controversial Charlie Hebdo Special Issue

Using God to justify hatred is blasphemy, says Rome.

Photo: Charlie Hebdo.
Photo: Charlie Hebdo.

One year ago, terrorists stormed the offices of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 staffers. To commemorate the victims, the controversial weekly magazine has released a special edition that features a cartoon of a blood-splattered God figure gripping an assault rifle above a headline that translates to “One year later: The assassin is still out there.” The drawing was created by managing editor Laurent Sourisseau, also known as Riss. One million copies have been printed, far above the customary print run of 60,000–100,000.

While copies of the historic issue are reportedly selling like hotcakes at Parisian newsstands, the Catholic Church is less than thrilled about the cartoon. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published a scathing commentary on the sketch earlier this week.

“Behind the deceitful flag of an uncompromising secularism, the French magazine once again forgets what religious leaders of different beliefs have been repeating for a long time: to reject violence in the name of religion,” reads a translation of the editorial published on CNN. “Using God to justify hatred is an authentic blasphemy, as Pope Francis repeatedly said.”

“It is a caricature representing the symbolic figure of God,” Sourisseau told CNN. “To us, it’s the very idea of God that may have killed our friends a year ago. So we wanted to widen our vision of things. Faith is not always peaceful. Maybe we should learn to live with a little less of God.”

The cover of the first issue of Charlie Hebdo to hit newsstands following the terrorist attack on the magazine. Photo: Charlie Hebdo/EPA.

Photo: Charlie Hebdo/EPA.

The special issue features drawings by illustrators who were killed in the attack, as well as several guest contributors.

Charlie is insolence elevated as a virtue, and bad taste as a mainstay of elegance,” French culture minister Fleur Pellerin writes in the issue. “For all of us, continue to create, to draw freedom.”

Following the January 2015 attack, Charlie Hebdo released a special issue that featured a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign below the headline “Tout est pardonné” (all is forgiven). It has sold 5 million copies.


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