The archbishop of Toledo has apologised to offended Roman Catholics after one of Spain’s most famous cathedrals was used as a location for a raunchy video that shows a couple grinding against each other in its hallowed precincts.
The video for Ateo (Atheist) features the Spanish rapper C Tangana and the Argentinian singer Nathy Peluso dancing steamily in Toledo’s 13th-century cathedral, much to the fascination of onlookers, among them a priest.
Elsewhere in the video, a naked but partially pixelated Peluso holds aloft C Tangana’s severed head, and he yanks her hair. The pulling of Peluso’s hair is an echo of one of the paintings inside the cathedral, which shows a demon pulling a woman’s hair to stop her reaching salvation. The painting is also used as the song’s artwork.
Within hours of the video dropping on Friday morning, the cathedral authorities were being asked to explain exactly how a racy video for a song with a less than religious title had come to be filmed in the splendid gothic cathedral.
In a statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the archdiocese of Toledo said the archbishop “deeply regretted what had happened” and had known nothing whatsoever about the project, its contents, or the final result.
“We humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of all the faithful, whether lay people or priests, who have rightly felt wounded by this inappropriate use of a sacred place,” said the statement. The archdiocese, it added, would be revising its procedures to “ensure that nothing similar happens again”.
The statement came after the cathedral’s dean had acknowledged the reaction the video had prompted, but insisted both it and the song presented “the story of a conversion through human love”.
Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche cited the song’s chorus, which runs: “I was an atheist, but now I believe, because a miracle like you has to have come down from heaven.”
The dean admitted the video used “a provocative visual language”, but said it did not insult anyone’s faith and could even help bring back those who had drifted away from the church. “We’re sorry that some people may have been upset. We ask forgiveness for hurting their feelings. The aim was only ever to support a dialogue with contemporary culture while always respecting the faith of the church.”
The dean also said that the final scenes of the video, in which the singers pose for photographs with an altar boy, showed the church’s “welcoming and understanding” attitude.
In August, C Tangana was accused of sexism after posting a picture of himself surrounded by women in bikinis to promote his song Yate (Yacht). He responded by posting the same picture, but superimposing his own head on those of the women. The rapper replaced his own head with that of the singer Zahara, who was recently criticised by the far-right Vox party for dressing as the Virgin Mary in posters for a concert in Toledo.