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New Zealand Gay Wedding Ad 'Featuring' Pope Benedict XVI Sparks Controversy

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Racheal McGonigal

A tongue-in-cheek advertisement depicting Pope Benedict XVI blessing the marriage of two gay men has sparked controversy in New Zealand.

As The New Zealand Herald reports, the ads are part of a large-scale campaign by local energy supplier Powershop, and bear the slogan "Same Power, Different Attitude." The signs were put on display last month in central Auckland and Wellington, according to the publication.

Check out a photo of the ad as seen on Facebook below, then scroll down to keep reading:

pope gay marriage ad billboard

One resident complained the ad was not only "offensive," but attempted to imply that "the Catholic Church and the Vatican condone same sex marriage despite no formal communication of said claim," according to reports.

Still, New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) shrugged off the complaints, noting in a statement: "Those images were often presented with a combination of humor, criticism and irony, to make statements about societal issues and/or provoke discussion about contentious issues."

A blog posting on Powershop's website offered similar sentiments. "Like previous editions, this latest version of Powershop’s long-running campaign is intended to be both thought provoking and satirical," officials wrote. "We live in a world that has embraced freedom and equality."

No comment so far from the real pontiff, who slammed same-sex marriage as an "attack" on the traditional family in his annual Christmas address last month.

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