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Vatican awards self 'unique copyright' on Pope

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The Vatican has awarded itself a "unique copyright" on the Pope's name, image, coat of arms, and any other symbol or logo related to the Holy Father.

"The use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff...and/or the use of the title 'Pontifical,' must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See," reads a statement released by the Vatican on Saturday morning, the Catholic News Agency reports.

The statement declares that the Vatican "alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter." With its self-awarded "copyright," the Holy See intends to "protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church."

In recent years, the statement says, educational and cultural institutions, civic groups, and foundations have exhibited an increased desire to use the Pope's name without the express approval of the Vatican. The Vatican attributes this to a "great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father." And now it wants to suppress such feelings.

The statement suggests that the Vatican's new "copyright" is a way of dealing with organizations who use the Pope's name, image, and symbols to "attribute credibility and authority to initiatives."

Apparently, the Vatican has mistaken copyright for a trademark. And it has no legal means of enforcing its declaration across the globe. But this is the Vatican. Presumably, it's assuming that you'll obey its "copyright" in an effort to avoid spending the rest of your life wallowing in guilt. ®

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