An Irish artist is expecting outrage after painting a picture of the Pope conducting a gay marriage.
‘You May Now Kiss The Groom’ by Kevin Sharkey is to go on display in Dublin at the end of this month.
Donegal-born Sharkey, 49, is bisexual and has attracted controversy before over his work, most notably for his 2009 image of Katie Price merged with Moors murderer Myra Hindley.
He said he got the idea for the painting after seeing a news report about the Pope calling gay marriage a “dangerous threat” to the common good.
The Catholic Church’s official stance on homosexuality is that it is “intrinsically disordered” and gay unions can never been considered equal to marriage.
The Pope has launched verbal attacks against gay marriage several times recently and has criticised gay rights provisions in the UK’s Equality Act.
Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk, Sharkey called the Pope’s remarks “an outrage and a disgrace”.
He said: “What a load of old bollocks.
“Preaching intolerance is a dangerous thing to do. That comes down onto the streets – drunk thugs kicking the f**k out of ‘queer f**kers’.”
He worked on the painting with acclaimed Italian artist Alessandro Tesi.
“We were passionate about doing this work,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in that if you visualise something for long enough, it’ll come to be true.
“It’s about drawing people’s attention. People will look at that and remember that they saw an image of the Pope marrying two men.”
Sharkey also said he had received dozens of requests from people eager to wear the image as a t-shirt for Pride celebrations.
He said he had mostly had a “really positive response” to the work, although some “crazies” had complained.
“I expect the usual old windbags to crank themselves up and complain,” he said.
“But I don’t mind if I’m the whipping boy. I’m a big boy and can look after myself.
“Intolerance is a horrible thing but gay marriage is something that will happen. The church has no moral authority any more. They may as well pack up, turn the churches into hotels and retire.”