Newspaper unapologetic over partying, bikini-clad Virgin Mary cover

Lady-of-GuadeloupeA New Mexico weekly alternative newspaper is not apologizing for what could be described as a sacrilegious cover illustration for its “Summer Guide 2013,” despite coming under fire from a large segment of the community.

The Santa Fe Reporter claims that the cover, depicting the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe in a yellow bikini sipping a margarita, was intended to bring the “diverse cultures” of the community together, according to Fox News Radio.

It also shows four figures in the background, one of which can only be described as a bare-chested “gay cowboy” wearing a pink cowboy hat. It may have been done in fun, but it’s having the opposite effect.

“If your intent was to in effect slap Catholics across the face, by putting forth this public depiction of Our Lady as a party girl, during the very week that we honor her as our patroness, then I can only say that from my perspective, you succeeded,” wrote Adam Le Ortega, of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, according to Fox.

“I must voice my outrage and disgust at the decision to depict Our Lady of Guadalupe in such a demeaning manner,” he wrote in a letter to the Reporter. “I am personally and professional [sic] insulted by the cover.”

The newspaper, however, isn’t budging from its decision.

“The intent of our Summer Guide cover design was not to insult or denigrate any religion or ethnicity, but rather to incorporate an important part of Santa Fe’s culture into an image that also unites other diverse cultures that flourish in our city,” editor Alexa Schirtzinger wrote. “We never intended to offend anyone.”

The 2010 census showed that 48.7 percent of the population was Hispanic or Latino, much of it Catholic. How could Schirtzinger not think that such a large segment of the population would not be offended? The very name, Santa Fe, means “holy faith” in Spanish.

Did the Reporter have the right to illustrate the cover to its “Summer Guide 2013” as it did? Of course it did — the First Amendment guarantees that right. Should it have? I think not.

Every right carries with it a responsibility. Offending its readers for the sake of a little publicity was irresponsible, because it showed disrespect to the community it purports to serve.

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