A prominent Catholic priest has described the sale of ‘Jesus costumes’ in a Halloween costume store as "distasteful, offensive, and unacceptable".
Fr Tom Deenihan, the diocesan secretary at the Diocese of Cork and Ross, was responding after the store, Halloween HQ, which has 10 outlets across seven cities, included the outfits in its ‘horror’ range.
A Christ-like figure is used to market the packages, which are displayed alongside vampires, devils and other assorted ghouls. Priced at €35, the costumes include a white robe, red drape, wig, beard, and "soft crown of thorns".
One Cork shopper said he was "shocked" to find the item towards the rear of the city’s Patrick St store.
Fr Deenihan said: "The celebrations of the Feasts of All Saints [All Hallows] on Nov 1 and commemoration of the faithful departed a day later, are times when people visit cemeteries to remember and pray for their dead."
He added: "It is truly regrettable and sad that, for commercial purposes, the death of Christ and these dates should be used to ridicule the Passion of Christ and reduce it to a horror costume."
He said respect for religious beliefs "is central to modern society" and that "true pluralism does not seek to ridicule the faith and convictions of any believer". There would be "uproar" he said, "if other religious figures were depicted in this way".
Efforts yesterday to make contact Halloween HQ branch managers proved fruitless and the company did not respond to email inquiries.