Catholics outraged at film about 'panicky' Pontiff
A FILM about a panic-prone Pope who has unwittingly been thrust into the papacy and has to hire a psychiatric assistant to help him has sparked controversy in the Roman Catholic Church.
Traditionalists say the film, by the acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti, is "an instrument of Satan" and that it is particularly offensive as it has been released in the run-up to Easter.
Catholic lawyer Bruno Volpe has launched a suit for defamation against Mr Moretti and the producers under the terms of the Lateran Pact, which extends the same protections to the prestige of the Pope as to the Italian president.
Mr Volpe said that while 'Habemus Papam' (we have a pope), never mentioned the current Pope by name, it was clearly a parody of Pope Benedict XVI (pictured above) and dishonoured the papacy in general.
Salvatore Izzo, a Vatican expert, branded the work "disrespectful and boring" in an open letter to 'Avvenire', the Catholic bishops' newspaper.
He said Catholics should boycott the film, which opened in Italy on Friday. However, he admitted that he had not seen the film.
The Vatican has so far not reacted officially.