July 11, 2012 / 3:55 PM / 5 years ago

Satirical paper urges Christian spirit in papal row

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Leo Fischer, editor-in-chief of the German magazine "Titanic", poses for a picture in his office in Frankfurt July 11, 2012.Alex Domanski

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German magazine that angered the Vatican with a cover picture satirizing Pope Benedict said on Wednesday it hoped to defuse the dispute in "a spirit of Christian reconciliation".

The front cover of July's edition of Titanic shows the pope with a yellow stain on his cassock and the headline "Halleluja at the Vatican - The Leak Has Been Found" - a reference to the 'Vatileaks' scandal which led to the arrest of Benedict's butler on suspicion of stealing confidential documents.

The back cover shows the German-born pontiff from behind with a brown stain and the words "Another leak has been found".

At the Vatican's request, a German court banned the magazine on Tuesday from publishing the images of the pope on the Internet and from further publication of the printed edition, though tens of thousands of copies are already in circulation.

Titanic published on its website the letter sent by Cardinal Angelo Becciu on behalf of the pontiff asking German lawyers to take the necessary steps to halt the publication of images it said "violate Pope Benedict's personal rights".

Titanic editor-in-chief Leo Fischer told Reuters he was in contact with the pope's lawyers and hoped for an amicable solution.

Leo Fischer, editor-in-chief of the German magazine "Titanic", works in his office in Frankfurt July 11, 2012.Alex Domanski

"We would like to solve this problem in a spirit of Christian reconciliation ... We can solve the problem in a gentlemanly way over coffee," he said on Wednesday.

"If this does not happen, and we are waiting for an answer from the pope, then we will appeal for a lifting of the court ban," Fischer added.

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The German Journalists' Association criticized the temporary court injunction as "excessive" and said even the pope should accept satire.

That is not the view of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Titanic overstepped every measure of decency and this was also confirmed by the court decision," Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the German Bishops' Conference, said.

In its first reaction to the court order, Titanic also published a picture of Benedict waving two bottles of Fanta orange drink that implied he had acquired the stain on his cassock while celebrating the finding of the mystery 'leak'.

Titanic faces a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($306,400) if it defies the ban and continues to publish the satirical images of the pope.

Reporting By Elisa Oddone, editing by Gareth Jones

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