Row erupts over Catalan TV sketch parodying Andalusian religious icon
Catalan Catholic Church and Andalusian president condemn public broadcaster TV3's depiction of Virgin Mary
The Catalan Catholic Church, Andalusian groups in Catalonia, and the president of the Andalusian government have condemned a comedy sketch from the Catalan public broadcaster TV3 which parodied the Virgin of El Rocío, an Andalusian religious icon.
The skit was broadcast on the program 'Està passant' on April 4 and consisted of an interview with the comedian Judit Martín dressed as the Virgin Mary, with a doll representing Jesus.
The mock interview poked fun at the Andalusian accent and made jokes about the Virgin's sex life and religiosity in general, with the row blowing up over the Easter bank holiday weekend as images from the program spread on social media.
Indeed, on Tuesday, an association of Christian lawyers called Abogados Cristianos sued the program, arguing it was "degrading" and had no justification.
The complaint refers to Article 525.1 of the Spanish Constitution, which punishes with a fine those who "offend the feelings of the members of a religious confession, or publicly disparage the dogmas, beliefs, rites or public ceremonies thereof."
The Catholic Church in Catalonia released a statement on Tuesday expressing its "rejection" of the sketch, which it said "hurts many people's feelings," in particular "those of all believers who, through their invocation of the Virgin Mary, keep their faith and their religious traditions."
Church leaders said that public television must "respect all beliefs" and maintain "religious neutrality."
The Federation of Andalusian Cultural Entities in Catalonia (FECAC) has demanded a public apology from TV3.
FECAC president Daniel Salinero sent a letter to the head of the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia (CAC), Xevi Xirgo, to complain about the sketch. He demanded the "restitution of the honor" of the Virgin of El Rocío and a "public apology" on 'Està passant'.
The federation, founded in 1982 and which represents 106 groups, said it considered the skit to be in "very bad taste."
"We don't know if they would also be so disrespectful to other religions," the letter said.
Andalusian president: "Lack of respect"
The head of the Andalusian government, the conservative People's Party's Juanma Moreno, shared a video of the sketch on Twitter and condemned it: "Humor is one of the hallmarks of our land, but to be funny it has to be done with respect and affection. This shows a lack of respect to Andalusia, and to thousands of Andalusians and their traditions."
While Moreno said he hoped the program's creators knew how to ask for forgiveness, Toni Soler, the director and presenter of 'Està passant', said Moreno "can wait sitting down," implying that an apology would not be forthcoming any time soon.
The Andalusian government is to lodge a formal complaint over the sketch with FORTA, the body that oversees radio and television in Spain's autonomous communities.
Andalusian presidency minister, Antonio Sanz, told broadcaster RTVA on Sunday that he considered the sketch an "attack" and a "confrontation" and he accused the Catalan government (TV3's funders) of being divisive.
The spokesperson for the left-wing Forward Andalusia party, Teresa Rodríguez, accused 'Està passant' of "Andalusiaphobia."
Meanwhile, Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, said he had not seen the TV3 skit, but that "respect and consideration" should be shown on "issues relating to religious and ideological feelings."
Answering questions from the press in the Andalusian city of Granada on Monday, Grande-Marlaska avoided commenting on possible action against TV3 but said we should remember that "a society is much richer and healthier when we all respect each other despite our differences."
Asked about the controversy during his press conference on Tuesday, the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, rejected making any comments and only expressed his "respect and consideration" towards all religions and believers.
He also said the debate does no longer revolve around the limits of humor when it comes to religion, because it has been "politicized."