A critic decried a recent World Cup car commercial as “Catholic mockery” as it features an actual church founded in honor of a former soccer player which parodies Catholic rituals.
The Iglesia Maradoniana – Maradonian Church – an allegedly real community in Argentina established by fans of retired soccer player, Diego Maradona, is featured in a recent Hyundai car commercial which aired during the FIFA World Cup last weekend.
In the commercial, a “priest” flanked by soccer players, processes into a church-like building, chanting the “Agnus Dei” in Latin while a soccer ball is carried in. After the priest “marries” a couple, the congregation erupts in dancing and singing while confetti rains down. Mock Eucharistic ministers are briefly seen feeding pizza to church members.
All of this occurs while a narrator says, “all over the world, soccer is almost a religion, but for the members of one church in Argentina, it actually is.”
“Fans show their loyalty in all kinds of ways – ours, just by another Hyundai.”
In an email to the company provided to CNA on Monday, Fr. Thomas Berg, Ph.D., who is president of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human person, condemned the commercial.
“As a Catholic priest, and a driver of Hyundai vehicles for the past six years, I am outraged at the egregious religious insensitivity and Catholic mockery (to not say anti-Catholic bigotry) portrayed in your recent insulting commercial that ridicules Catholic religious beliefs and practices,” Fr. Berg wrote.
“I demand that you pull this commercial from the airwaves immediately and promptly apologize to the worlds 1.2 billion Catholics,” he added.
CNA contacted the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights for comment on Monday but was told the group would not be issuing a statement. Jeff Field, spokesman for Catholic League president Bill Donohue, said that they do not believe Hyundai's intent was anti-Catholic. Field explained that since Hyundai was featuring an actual church, the car company itself was not parodying Catholic rituals.