The Vatican announced Wednesday that it will crack down on unauthorized use of the Papal crest and images.
The move comes amid obvious concern from Vatican officials about the growing criticism of Pope Francis.
For example, a recent attempt to criticize the Pope – in traditional Roman sarcastic manner – with posters was condemned by a senior Vatican cardinal as a “work of the devil.”
A press statement published by the Vatican Wednesday announced that the Secretariat of State will widen its surveillance over the Papal insignia and put an end to any possible “illegal” uses of the crest.
“To make more efficacious its proper action of protecting in the mentioned field, and to put an end to possibly illegal situations that it discovers, the Secretariat of State will enforce systematic surveillance activity in order to monitor the modality in which the image of the Holy Father and the crests of the Holy See are used, and will intervene if there are cases where it proves to be opportune,” the statement read.
The Secretariat attempted to provide additional justification for the move by stating “it has among its aims also to protect the image of the Holy Father so that his message may reach the faithful in an integral way and that his person will not be instrumentalized.”
The increased surveillance is intended to prevent misuse of the Pope’s public image, which Francis takes much interest in, especially in regard to mainstream media and public opinion. While Pope Francis continues to speak his mind in interviews and leaves a debris field of misinterpretation for his press representatives to clean up, surveillance and control is foremost on the agenda of the Vatican’s Secretary of State.
Satirical sites like Eye of the Tiber should brace themselves for iconoclastic raids since they use a symbol of the Pontiff, the papal tiara, in the publication of their lighthearted “news.”
While Pope Francis continuously speaks of “mercy” in public, behind the scenes he asserts his control and authority. Priests are called in after gossip or hearsay of papal criticism, as in the case of the recent dismissal in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At the same time, the Pope has questioned “traditionally” dressed priests.
History shows that no totalitarian regime allows itself to be made fun of or tolerates the slightest quantum of humor — and the Vatican seems to be following this trend.
How the use of the Papal crest by entities other than the Vatican “instrumentalizes” the Holy Father remains unclear.