Germany's satirical magazine, Titanic, was embroiled in a furious legal row with the offices of Pope Benedict XVI yesterday after it published a photograph of the pontiff wearing a urine stained cassock with a headline proclaiming that it had finally "sourced" the Vatican leaks.
Even though he is German, the Pope was evidently not amused by the Teutonic humour employed by the Frankfurt-based magazine, which has been poking fun at figures of authority for over 30 years.
Germany's Catholic Bishops' Conference confirmed that the Vatican had taken steps to prosecute the magazine for its front cover claiming it was illegal and "infringed the holy father's rights".
The magazine's mock front page photograph showed an allegedly incontinent Pope under a headline which read "Hallelujah in the Vatican: the leak has been sourced." The back cover showed the pontiff from behind with brown stains on his cassock and a caption reading: "Another leak sourced!"
The satire, which referred to the recent Vatican scandal in which private letters to the Pope were leaked to the Italian media, also failed to amuse Hamburg judges. On Tuesday they issued a temporary injunction against the magazine banning further distribution of the offending issue.
Yesterday Titanic's website showed its Vatican leaks issue blacked out. Leo Fischer, Titanic's editor, insisted that the pontiff had clearly misunderstood the offending front cover. He said it had merely shown the Pope with a cassock stained with fizzy drink spilt by accident at a party celebrating the fact that the Vatican leaks scandal had been solved. "Everyone knows how much the Pope likes Fanta," he declared.
Catholic groups rallied to the Pope's defence. Thomas Goppel, the head of the Bavarian conservative party's Christian Social Catholics, accused Titanic of behaving in a "decadent" manner.