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Umberto Eco had written in 1977, probably joking, that someone had sneaked into the Vatican and was very wisely trying to destroy the Roman Catholic Church. A journalist had written in 1976 an article including something insulting for the Pope (that the Pope is gay). This article was published in two magazines, one Italian and one French that were read by approx. 150 thousand people in Italy and France.

Right away, the Vatican begun a very intense and vigorous denial campaign through television, radio, newspapers, magazines and every other public mass-media in ten different languages (among with, african Swahili) , passing the message that Pope is not gay to several millions of people around the globe.

The result was first, that the writer became famous, and second, that several millions of people now knew that the Pope was rumoured to be gay. Imagine that someone says to ten people that I am a thief and I respond informing one million people that it not true that I am a thief. The actual result is that one million people will know that I was accused of theft. If we suppose that half this million believes my denial, there is another half remaining that now suspects me of theft... Umberto Eco says that there is a very fundamental principle that we should always take into consideration regarding the mass-media phenomenon: The denial communication channel should never exceed the slanderer's channel. Otherwise, we play the slanderer's game...

Same is the case with the Nobel Prize-winner theatrical-play writer Dario Fo. The Vatican thought that his play "Mistero Buffo" was insulting for the religious feelings of the Catholics, full of blasphemy and it should be immediately suppressed, so that it would not corrupt the... pure religious thoughts of millions of god-fearing humans...

So, once more, the Vatican takes action! It creates a world-wide scandal with announcements, contra-announcements, interviews, Vatican-member statements etc. The result expected: All italian people turn their TVs to the public channel, to see the second part of Dario Fo's theatrical play. Triumph! International organisations with world-wide fame, experimental theatrical companies, all invite Dario Fo to speak about his play!

So, what's going on with the Vatican's press room? Is it possible that from now on, anybody who wants to launch a new product (toy, car tires, or washing powder), just has to give it a brand-name that is offending for religion and/or Catholicism and then take advantage of the free advertisement power of the Vatican?

Semiotics In Everyday Life, Umberto Eco

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