Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the arch-bishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina was elected pope in March.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican often lashed out at negative depictions of the religion in pop culture from Tom Hanks’ movie, “The DaVinci Code,” to last year’s sci-fi thriller “Prometheus.”
The overtly sexual theme in the video also cuts closely to the church’s own struggle with a burgeoning sex scandal. It involving scores of priests who molested young children over the years and were never called into account by Rome.
Singer Snead O’Connor slammed Irish bishops in 2010 after they asked their poor parishioners for money to pay compensation to children sexually abused by priests.
Bergoglio, 76, is a Jesuit, known for his humbleness and ascetic, unpretentious lifestyle. He has long been an advocate for the poor in his home country. But as Pope he’s also defender of the faith.
The Bowie video’s goading sacrilegious theme is the first test the new pope on whether he will continue to speak out against negative pop culture depictions of the church.
In the video,
He slaps away a beggar seeking a dollar for food and walks into the church with a prostitute on his arm.
Fetching French actress Marion Cotillard plays a prostitute, who symbolizes the exploitation of women by powerful institutions. She suffers from stigmata, the sudden appearance of wounds like those suffered by Jesus on the cross.
Cases of visible stigmata go back to St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century. They are said to be expressions of the grace and piety of Christ and symbolize his suffering, sorrows and forgiveness of sins.
The video also features a devoted church acolyte engaging in self-flagellation. The practice also gained currency among Catholics in the 13th Century. The church eventually condemned it, but devout Catholics in South American and the Philippines still whip themselves.
Members of the strict Catholic lay organization Opus Dei also reportedly engage in self-flagellation as a symbol of their devotion to Christ.
Bowie is dressed in a robe like Jesus and is the brothel’s stage act. “And the priest stiff in hate now demanding fun begin, Of his women dressed as men for the pleasure of that priest.” he sings in one of the verses.
The song, “The Next Day,” is the third to be made into a video from his album of the same name. Warning: Some of the scenes are graphic. Let us know your thoughts and follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest pop culture news.