Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

World Cup Hyundai Ad isn’t Blasphemous, it’s a Sermon!

A 30-second television commercial that ran in the United States during the England-USA soccer match on Saturday has some Catholics up in arms and charging Hyundai, the sponsor, with blasphemy for mocking the core teachings of the church. Other Christians – myself included – take a different view: it’s actually a powerful and convicting – albeit accidental – sermon!

The ad begins with Latin singing in an Argentine “church” complete with a stained-glass window of a soccer ball. “Worshippers” (mocking the religious devotion some in Argentina have for the game) are taking Eucharist on their knees receiving slices of pizza rather that communion.  The commercial also shows a soccer ball covered with a crown of thorns, part of Jesus Christ’s passion.


Catholic officials fired back. “This ad is an outrageous affront to Catholics and a mockery of our most sacred beliefs and practices,” said Fr. Marcel Taillon, a parish priest in Narrangansett, Rhode Island. Hyundai, a World Cup sponsor, was attempting to link fan loyalty with auto sales: “Fans show their loyalty in all kinds of ways; ours just buy another Hyundai,” the narrator says at the close of the ad.

Hyundai apologized and has pulled the ad titled “Wedding.” “The unexpected response created by the ad… prompted us to take a more critical and informed look at the spot,” the company said in a statement. “Though unintentional, we now see it was insensitive.”


Mmm…. Wrong reaction! First, Christian faith is not off limits to comedy and satire. We should be able to hold our own through the barbs of ridicule. Yes, holy communion- and all our Christian beliefs and practices – are sacred. But we are not Islam where drawing a cartoon of Mohammed might get one’s right hand amputated. Jesus himself was ridiculed and mocked. That’s part of our own sacred history. So lighten up Father Taillon.

Secondly, Hyundai has a point, and a powerful one! We have made silly things like soccer a kind or religion. This ad simply points out the idols we have cast in the image of our own entertainment. Truth be told: many people in the world do “worship” their favorite sports team,  athlete, rock star, or reality show, with more loyalty than they show God.  So accidental kudos to Hyundai for pointing out in clever satire the sad truth… We have other gods including soccer players and yes, new automobiles!


Hyundai might not have intended it, but their ad preaches! I for one am not offended, except at my own anemic faith that sometimes favors sports over real acts of faith and love for God!

“God, forgive us for worshiping false gods. We love things that do not matter, and ignore what does. You are a jealous God, not because you demand attention, but because you long for relationship with us. We turn to pass-times instead of time with you. Thank you for convicting us of our sin, and for even using things that offend us to drive the point home. And forgive us too for objecting to the wrong things, and for attacking what reveals our sin instead of heeding the truth revealed. We repent for our wayward affections. Turn us again to a single-hearted devotion. In Jesus…”

  • Anna

    That is the most ridiculous way of looking at this commercial. Hyundai’s intention was most definitely not to preach, but to mock. What they did was completely disrespectful to me, as a Catholic, and disrespectful to the Catholic Faith itself.

  • Jesse

    That was a silly viewpoint…silly as in ridiculous.

  • Robert

    I wonder if hyundai would do a similar mocking of Islam. They would “Blip” on their pants even to think of it. No, this is not preaching, this is not advertising. This is mocking Christianity

  • Bill

    It may be a mocking of Christianity but anyone secure in the faith can handle it, guess thats not the Catholics. I don’t know where you live but drive by any soccor field on Sunday morning, and you can see the children of the people complaning about the ad playing soccor instead of going to church, unfortunately if used as a sermon topic the people that need to hear it would be playing soccor!

  • Cathy

    Your point of view certainly illustrates your anemic faith. Advertising protested by a multitude of people reveals a standard that is the lowest common denominator for future ads. Thank goodness some one cares enough to have standards these days.

  • Your Name

    While this commercial clearly mocks the Catholic Church and the sacrifice of the Mass, the Fullness and Truth of the Church prevents the advertisement from even being close in resemblance to being an actual Catholic Mass.
    Additionally, this article becomes nearly irrelevant because the lack of understanding of the Catholic faith.
    Most notably, by definition, pizza cannot be Eucharist. Communion, yes; Eucharist, no.

  • david clohessy

    We wish this priest, and thousands of his colleagues, would show similar or even greater outrage over the cover up of child sex crimes by bishops, past and present. It’s truly tragic that percieved insults directed at adults provokes a greater reaction by priests than the actual assaults perpetrated on children.
    Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell)

  • Jessie’s Girl

    I agree with Jessie. This piece isn’t well reasoned at all and the writer is grasping to find a meaning that wasn’t intended. Maybe this guy needs to reflect a little more. Plainly not all religious satire is out-of-bounds, but there are lines that should not be crossed. Some aspects of the commercial were funny at the beginning, but then this ad plainly went too far.

  • Anna

    This is a ridiculous way of interpreting this commercial. Hyundai’s meaning was definitely not to preach, but to mock. Just because people may be able to “handle it” does not mean that it is right. As a Catholic, I thought it was horrible and completely disrespectful.

  • Santiago
  • automotive updates

    Pretty good post. I hope you create more in the future..

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