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TWO days was all it took for the Vatican to realise it had made a massive blunder by issuing a stamp created to celebrate World Youth Day in Portugal in August, 2023.
After its release this week, the stamp was scrapped in the face of outrage over what many, including Catholics, saw as a celebration of nationalism and authoritarianism. One bishop branded it as being “in terribly poor taste”.
Catholic news outlet Crux pointed out that the stamp featured the Pope standing on a statue erected under the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar.
Several observers on social media pointed out that the stamp is similar to imagery employed by Portugal’s “Secretariat of National Propaganda” during Salazar’s Estado Novo, or “New State.”
Image via YouTube
Crux reported that Portuguese Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, above, delegate to the Pontifical Council for Social Sciences, was among those objected to the stamp.
Yesterday (Friday) it was reported by Aleteia that 45,000 WYD stamps were to be printed and sold for 3.10 euros (around $3.41).
Designed by Italian illustrator Stefano Morri, it shows Pope Francis leading a group of young people up the “Monument of Discoveries” (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), which is a large sculpture of a sailboat situated near the river Tagus that runs through Lisbon.
The monument was built in 1960 and celebrates the Portuguese age of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Those who slammed the work said it highlighted the country’s colonialist past and was reminiscent of graphics and illustrations produced during Portugal’s dictatorship, which had close ties with the RCC via a Concordat signed in 1940.
Salazar, Prime Minister of Portugal, and the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal Pietro Ciriaci, during the ratification of the Concordat on 1 June 1940, in Necessidades Palace, Lisbon. Image via Wiki CC.
Bishop Azevedo told the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias:
The stamp is in terribly bad taste. Certainly Pope Francis does not identify with this nationalistic image.
In reaction to the criticisms, Rosa Pedroso Lima, spokesperson for the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation, explained that the illustration of the stamp is:
An image of the Pope on a Lisbon monument, symbolising, in a kind of allegory, St. Peter’s boat and the Pope leading young people and the Church into a new era.
There will always be several readings of whatever is in a work of art, be it a stamp or an illustration.
You can also support my work via a one-off donation via PayPal, Buy Me a Coffee or GofundMe.
If you spot any typos in this report please notify me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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