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PR cock-up of the year

A news photo has spread through Icelandic cyberspace* like wildfire today.

The man to the left, looking decidedly ill-at-ease, is the current bishop of Iceland, Hr. Karl Sigurbjörnsson. The man to the right, looking decidedly smug, is Sr. Geir Waage. They had a meeting this morning because Sr. Geir announced to the general populace of Iceland a few days ago that, in his view, confidentiality between the clergy and members of their congregation should be ultimate and take precedence even over the law of the land — meaning that, if a member of the clergy heard in “confession” that a child had been molested, he or she should keep it confidential and not report it.

There have since been loud cries for the bishop to — if you’ll pardon my French — fire his ass.

Anyway, Hr. Karl and Sr. Geir had a very high-profile meeting today on this oh-so touchy subject and Sr. Geir came out all meek and said that of course he would honour the law of the land, “in future as he had hitherto”.

The “D’oh!!!” factor in the photograph, however, is the fact that the painting behind them is of disgraced bishop Ólafur Skúlason, now deceased, whose picture is still hanging up in the headquarters of the National Church despite the serious crisis the church now faces as a result of his misdemeanors.

Some people are calling this the PR-cock-up of the year, and I think I’d have to agree.

But it’s also pretty hilarious.

* I know I know, technically there’s no such thing as Icelandic cyberspace. Although sometimes it really does seem like there is when all the Icelanders start ranting on Facebook.

[Photo nicked from visir.is]

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  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland August 25, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Yea usual stuff no big deal we have characters like that down here in Ireland, still we are ahead because catholic priests helped Nazis to escape after WWII so you protestant guys up there have some way to go yet 🙂

  • hildigunnur August 26, 2010, 12:56 am

    I’m waiting until someone draws an erection on that photo “somewhere”. Has to happen.

  • Alexander E. August 26, 2010, 3:24 am

    I think that Sr. Geir Waage is absolutely right because this “confidential” rule is fundamental for the operation of the church as social, political and whatever else institution. And yes – it’s above the law cause it represents the God which is above every thing. Right? That’s why all dictators don’t like the church unless it surrenders and becomes just a part of the state machine.
    So if the church agrees to report what was supposed to be kept only between a person and the God – then who will need such a church? This is why people come to the priest.

    BTW, relatives are exempted from the obligation to report to authorities/to testify against relatives. And this is considered to be OK in legal process (as far as I remember my legal training). So what is the difference with the church then – people are just His children?

    For the record – I studied scientific communism and don’t practice any religion/belief.

    PS. I think the number of those who in favor of the church separation from the state … reflects the number of people separating from the church 😉

  • Michael Lewis August 26, 2010, 10:38 am

    @Carry on hildigunnur
    I’m waiting until someone draws an erection on that photo “somewhere”. Has to happen.

    You’re as bad as my wife: what on earth made you think of that…
    Two blokes standing next to a painting of a Bishop.

    I’m coming around to Alda’s view – they do look a bit shifty – there, proof of guilt if ever needed.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland August 26, 2010, 10:47 am

    Plus this priest suspected of IRA bomb plot,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11091255
    Your priests are well like choirboys Alda ha ha ha ho ho

  • alda August 26, 2010, 11:02 am

    Hildigunnur — where would they draw it, then? Between his hands? 😉

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland August 26, 2010, 11:58 am

    That’s rude girls, I have heard of schoolboy lavatory humour but really ?

  • hildigunnur August 26, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Alda – hehe probably around there yep… Michael, well, what do you think the painted bishop is in the news for?

    Actually I can’t claim the dirty-mindedness is my own, came up on my irc channel 😀

  • Alexander E. August 26, 2010, 5:21 pm

    hildigunnur August 26, 2010 at 12:56 am
    I’m waiting until someone draws an erection on that photo “somewhere”. Has to happen.

    Well, I think the artist did exactly that… then painted the hands resting on it.
    Just look more carefully on the picture :-)))))
    It’s simply an old painting style – a flat one. In old times they didn’t have a 3D technology – otherwise we would see it right away from the angle the photo was taken…

    PS. Sometimes an unintentional snapshot exposes the whole story (but if the photographer did this deliberately – he is brilliant).