Vatican City, Jan 6: The Vatican's newspaper on Tuesday criticised French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo for a front cover portraying God as a gun-wielding terrorist to mark the first anniversary of a terror attack on the publication.
A million copies of the special edition are to hit France's newsstands tomorrow with a cover featuring a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, accompanied by the text: "One year on: The murderer is still out there."
In a commentary, the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said treatment of this kind towards religion "is not new" -- and stressed that religious figures have repeatedly condemned violence in the name of God.
"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."
The commentary added: "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."
The special edition will mark a year since brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo's offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine's staff. The January 7, 2015 attack, claimed by Al-Qaeda's branch in the Arabian Peninsula, came after a 2011 firebombing of its offices that forced it to move premises.