Most people who have seen the recent cover of Playboy magazine's Mexico edition say the cover model is most certainly portraying a racy image of the Virgin Mary despite the magazine's claim that it isn't.
"Whoever tells you there isn't is simply being hypocritical or not very honest," Father Albert Cutie told CNN's Rick Sanchez on Monday after news broke out about the controversial cover.
"And that's what I don't like about the statement from Playboy magazine," added the Radio La Paz host.
About a week after the contested issue hit the stands, Raul Sayrols, publisher of Playboy Mexico, claimed in a statement that the image "is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe or any other religious figure."
"The intent was to reflect a Renaissance-like mood on the cover," he alleged.
Most observers – both religious and non-religious – are not buying into the claim, however.
"[T]hey claim that the nude woman wearing the religious looking veil and standing in front of a stained glass window and behind the words 'We adore you, Mary' was not a depiction of the sacred Mary. Oh, and the fact that it came out on the day that Mexico celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe must have just been a coincidence," commented a chief contributor for CollegeOTR.com, the country's premiere college blog.
It's not surprising that no one is convinced, added the blogger on Tuesday under the username "Drunken Intellect."
"It's blasphemous alright, but we all know Playboy sold its soul long ago… and then stripped it and put it on the cover," he wrote.
Father Jonathan Morris, an American Roman Catholic priest and vice-rector of the Legionaries of Christ seminary in Rome, also said there would be little use in loudly crying "sacrilegious," "crude," "demeaning," or "foul" over the controversial cover shot.
"After all, those adjectives are all applicable to the magazine itself," he stated in his Fox News blog.
According to reports, Playboy Mexico printed 100,000 copies of the issue, which hit the stands seven days before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and eleven days before the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Virgin Mary is venerated by Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox as well as some Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist Christians.