Kissing Benetton ads pulled amidst Vatican furor

One of the ads depicts President Obama kissing Hu Jintao and Hugo Chavez.

(AP, WJLA) — The Vatican says it will take legal action against the Benetton clothing company to prevent the publication of an ad featuring a fake photo montage of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips.

The Vatican said in a statement Thursday the image is "offensive not only to the dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibilities of believers."

Benetton withdrew the ad immediately after its debut Wednesday once the Vatican denounced it as an unacceptable provocation.

Benetton had said its "Unhate" campaign was aimed at fostering tolerance. It featured photo montages of purported enemies kissing.

One of the ads featured President Barack Obama kissing both Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.