Belief Beat

Talk about an ice cream headache: an ad for Antonio Federici gelato, featuring a heavily pregnant nun spooning up the frozen treat paired with an “immaculately conceived” tagline, has been banned by Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, prompted by Catholic outcry on the eve of Pope Benedict’s visit to the United Kingdom.

To see the ad in all its, um, glory, check out the stories in The Daily Mail and The Toronto Star.

This is the latest in the Italian company’s “ice cream is our religion” campaign, preceded by a banned ad featuring a young nun and priest about to share a kiss. While some critics say the latest ad is just meant to be funny, The Guardian quoted ad creator Matt O’Connor, an Irish Catholic, describing it as a satire on the “horrific stories involving thousands of pregnant Irish women enslaved by the Catholic church in convents and who had their children taken away from them by nuns because they were seen as ‘moral degenerates.”

Meanwhile, CNN reports that the company is “seeking to relaliate by securing a series of billboard advertisements along the route the pope’s motorcade is expected to take during his visit to London.” (Having seen the popemobile during Benedict’s trip to New York a few years ago, I don’t think pontiff notices billboards as he’s waving through thick protective glass at the crowds and flashing cameras.)

Offensive? Blasphemous? Hilarious? Sacrilicious? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, and check back for more updates on the papal visit to England and Scotland.

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