Cries of censorship in England, as the country's advertising watchdog has banned a magazine ad that shows a pregnant nun, just days before Pope Benedict XVI is set to visit Britain.
The magazine ad is from the Italian ice cream maker Antonio Federici. It shows the nun eating ice cream, with text that reads: "Immaculately conceived ... Ice cream is our religion."
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the ad was "likely to cause widespread offense" and banned it. The ASA rejected the manufacturer's claims that it was "using gentle humor" to convey the message that "ice cream is our religion."
"We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics," the ASA ruling said.
The ASA said the publishers of Lady magazine, which carried the ad, had received several complaints from readers.
This isn't the first time the company has used religion in its ads. Last year the ASA banned an ad that showed a nun and a priest eyeing each other for a kiss.
The company said the ruling amounted to censorship of artistic freedoms ahead of the Pope's visit. It said it will retaliate by putting up a series of billboard ads along the Pontiff's motorcade route in London.
"The ASA is unable to distinguish between the 'virgin birth of Jesus Christ,' which formed the basis of their complaint notification, and the 'immaculate conception' which they are now referring to and which we have received no complaints about," the statement said.