VATICAN CITY –– French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s front covers are known to be provocative. But now they’ve irritated the Vatican –– or at least its newspaper.
One day ahead of the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the publication’s headquarters in Paris that killed 12 people, Charlie Hebdo released one million copies of a special edition.
The front cover features a bearded man, apparently representative of God, splattered in blood and carrying an assault rifle over his shoulder. The headline translates as One Year After: The Assassin Is Still Out There. In its commentary this week, L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican state, said it was not impressed.
“This episode isn’t something new because, 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. Using God to justify hatred is an authentic blasphemy, as Pope Francis repeatedly said.”
But in an exclusive interview on CNN’s Amanpour, Laurent Sourisseau, Charlie Hebdo’s head of publication, who goes by the nickname of Riss, stands by the illustration.
“It is a caricature representing the symbolic figure of God,” he explains. “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.”
Following the attack last year, Charlie Hebdo released an edition with a sketch of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover, looking solemn and holding up a sign that read: Je suis Charlie, or I am Charlie in French. The phrase was widely shared on social media in support for the magazine. Sourisseau clarifies who is depicted on the latest cover. “No, this is not Mohammed. It’s above him. It’s the God of all those who have faith.”