On Monday, news of the church’s new mascot was reported in the US, and the news caused consternation in Australia.
In the US the church announced its mascot was a black male with a black beard, with a face that resembled a caricature of Pope Francis.
The pope had recently taken a position in a church in Florida where he was holding a mass, the Associated Press reported, while in Australia the church is using the mascot as part of a campaign for its new media organisation.
The Vatican announced on its website that the mascot is “an original, completely new character created by the Vatican” to promote its new organisation.
It said the character, who is the first pope to be portrayed in the papal media, “is an actor and a musician, the son of Pope Paul VI”.
“This new face, created by Pope Francis, is a symbol of the unity and solidarity of the Church,” the pope said in a statement.
“The Pope is a father of the entire Catholic world, and he will continue to lead the Church.”
The news prompted calls for the pope to apologise, with Australian Bishop Andrew Copson calling it “disgraceful”.
“I think the Pope is being disrespectful, he is being dismissive and I think he is not very wise, as a person who knows what it means to be a man of the people, he must have a better idea,” Copson said.
“I have a feeling that this Pope is not the pope we want him to be, he’s not the Pope we want our people to be.
I think that he’s doing this in a very disrespectful way.”
Copson has been one of the most vocal critics of the papacy in Australia, calling on the Pope to resign in September after he criticised the Australian bishops conference for refusing to allow him to address its annual meeting.
But the Catholic Church has long had a fraught relationship with the Australian media.
In recent years the Vatican has tried to portray itself as the champion of freedom of the press and criticism of the state.
It has also been accused of hypocrisy by critics who believe the church seeks to suppress critical media outlets.
“The Pope has always said that his intention is to be the guardian of the free press in the world, not to be its censor,” Peter LaBarbera, a former Australian Catholic archbishop who is now a journalist, told Al Jazeera.
“He’s never done that.
He would say something he knew was true and then then he’d say something that was demonstrably false.” “
That was one of his great weaknesses.
He would say something he knew was true and then then he’d say something that was demonstrably false.”
In September, the Australian Federal Police said it had opened an investigation into whether the Vatican was breaching the Australian law on “falsely influencing public opinion”.
In a statement, the AFP said it was “aware of allegations that a person or group has made and is aware of a complaint that has been made by the AFP”.
Australian journalist Tim Murphy, who was working for the ABC at the time, was accused of “misrepresenting the organisation” by using an image of the pope on a radio show.
He was told he could be charged under section 47A of the Crimes Act.
The AFP said Murphy had been “indefinitely suspended”.