Pope blessing gay marriage is not ‘offensive’?

Apparently not in New Zealand, where the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a four-and-a-half story billboard depicting Pope Benedict XVI blessing the marriage of a male couple “is unlikely to cause widespread offence.” The billboard was put up in December in central Auckland and Wellington by an electric company, Powershop, to show support for a same-sex marriage bill before the legislature. Contrast that outcome with the decision last spring by the outre’ outfitter Benetton to end its controversial UNHATE campaign ad showing a photoshopped image of the pope smooching a prominent Egyptian sheikh. The Vatican had sued Benetton, which is known for provocative ads, and the clothier “publicly recognized it had hurt the faithful’s sensitivity,” and that “the pope’s image must be respected and can only be used with the prior authorization of the Holy See.” I’m still not clear whether it was blasphemy or copyright fears that prompted Benetton’s reversal.