By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In an attempt to appeal to fanatical soccer fans around the world, World Cup sponsor Hyundai ran an ad in the U.S. during the England-USA matchup on Saturday that shows a soccer ball crowned with thorns being processed into a Catholic church where worshipers kneel to receive bites of pizza instead of communion.
According to Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register, the ad features a priest singing “Agnus Dei Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi,” (Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world) as a tabernacle bearing a soccer ball is processed into church for a supposed wedding. The incense burner has been replaced with a soccer ball and the stained-glass window is a soccer ball. When Church members come to receive communion, they kneel and take bites out of a piece of pizza. Meanwhile, the narrator says, “All over the world, soccer is almost a religion, but for the members of one church in Argentina it actually is.”
The church they are referring to is located in Rosario, Argentina, and is dedicated to star soccer player Diego Maradoniana, who is considered by Argentinian fans to be the best soccer player who ever lived.
“I have a rational religion and that’s the Roman-catholic church, and I have a religion passed on my heart, passion, and that’s Diego Maradona,” said the church’s founder Alejandro Veron.
The group has not only made Maradona into a “god,” Drake writes, but has also created their own “ten commandments” which include exhortations to “love football above all things” and “Let Diego be thy name, and thy one of your children.”
“The fact that this ‘church’ actually exists doesn’t exonerate Hyundai from its role,” Drake writes. “The ‘church’ and the commercial clearly mock the Catholic faith.”
He goes on to say that while the commercial is attempting to make a humorous point about fan loyalty, the problem is that it’s not funny.
“It wouldn’t be funny if the symbols being used were Jewish. It wouldn’t be funny if the symbols being used were Muslim. And it’s not funny for the 1 billion Catholics who believe that Jesus Christ is the only “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and whom Catholics take into their bodies each and every time they attend Mass.”
As a result of the outrage caused by the ad, Hyundai agreed to pull the ad. “The unexpected response created by the ad… prompted us to take a more critical and informed look at the spot,” the company said in a statement. “Though unintentional, we now see it was insensitive.”
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