A souvenir T-shirt meant to pay tribute to Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Philippines has been pulled from shelves after drawing disapproval from Catholic leaders, who described the shirt as “misleading.” The T-shirt conveyed the words, “No race. No religion. I embrace diversity.” Three other T-shirts with similar designs but different messages will remain on sale, according to the Guardian.
The shirts were printed by the Philippine’s largest broadcaster, the television network ABS-CBN, and were sold in its shops and by its retail partners. “Francis has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, said in a statement, according to the Guardian. “It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem.” He urged Catholics “not to patronize items with misleading posts and statements.”
Francis has been applauded for his reformist stance on issues that have divided the Catholic Church in recent years, including divorce and same-sex marriage. However, his leniency toward certain topics has drawn the ire of some Catholics. American journalist Ross Douthat suggested in October that “[Conservative Catholics] might want to consider the possibility that they have a role to play, and that this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him.”
The pope is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Jan. 15 and will spend four days in the Philippines, where the population is roughly 80 percent Catholic. He's expected to meet with President Benigno Aquino as well as survivors of super-typhoon Haiyan. He's also slated to celebrate mass in the capital.
The other T-shirts designed by ABS-CBN that will remain on sale included the messages, “Speak less, act more,” “Thank you for the compassion,” and “Who am I to judge?”