VATICAN CITY, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The Vatican newspaper strongly criticized French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo for its depiction of God as a terrorist on its cover calling it a "sad paradox" of a world that is politically correct almost to the point of ridicule yet disrespects those who believe in God.
The cover features a bearded and bloodied man, a representation of God, carrying an assault rifle. A headline reads, in French, "One year after: the assassin is still out there." One million copies will be distributed beginning Wednesday, a year after 12 people were killed by terrorists who stormed the magazine's Paris offices. Al-Qaida later claimed responsibility for the January 7, 2015 attack. Five more people died in related incidents in following days.
A commentary in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano condemned the magazine's portrayal of God as terrorist saying:
"Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion, using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as Pope Francis has said several times. In Charlie Hebdo's choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers' faith in God, regardless of the religion."
Cartoons from artists who died in the attack are featured inside the magazine, along with an editorial by cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, pen name "Riss," who survived the storming of the office. In the commentary he denounces "fanatics made stupid by the Koran, but also bigots from every religion who wished upon us the hell they believe in, because we dared to laugh at religion."
The 2015 attack on its editorial office prompted speculation that Charlie Hebdo would shut down production, but its following issue sold 7 million copies; the incident inspired "I Am Charlie" as a worldwide slogan of defiance against fear of terrorism, and the magazine continued to publish weekly.