Racy Spanish pop video leaves Catholic leaders blushing

Toledo cathedral’s use as location for filming ‘Ateo’ video triggers backlash

A racy pop music video filmed in a Spanish cathedral has unleashed a scandal which has led to the resignation of a member of the clergy and caused the local bishop to apologise during Mass.

Much of the video for the song Ateo ("Atheist"), a duet by Spanish star C Tangana and Argentinian singer Nathy Peluso, was filmed in Toledo's medieval cathedral. It shows the couple dancing raunchily, at times with Tangana stripped to the waist, while priests look on.

“I want to make a religion of your hair, your mouth and your face,” Tangana sings, “And may the Virgin of Almudena forgive me the things I do in your bed.”

The song has been an immediate hit with fans, receiving 10.5 million listens in its first week after being dropped on Spotify.


However, the video also immediately drew complaints, with a backlash on social media and some local Catholics even gathering outside the cathedral to protest. In response, the archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Cerro Chaves, apologised for it in a statement addressed to “all those faithful laypeople, devotees and clergy who have felt understandably hurt by this inappropriate use of a sacred place”.

The archbishop also revealed that he was not informed about the filming of the video, which took place in September. According to reports, the cathedral was paid between €15,000 and €30,000, which the archbishop has now pledged to charity.

The dean of the cathedral, Juan Miguel Ferrer, who had apparently given permission for the video to be filmed, then announced he was bringing forward his retirement, from early November to October 16th. Admitting that the video had contained “provocative visual language”, he blamed “certain mistakes which may have been made in terms of words, deeds and omission over recent days”.

He also said he should have been present for the filming of the video.

In an interview, Tangana said the video had been “an opportunity for the church to say something nice, modern and tolerant and all of a sudden it hasn’t come across like that”.

He added: “I thought we were more modern than we really are.”

On Sunday, the archbishop held a Mass in the cathedral in which he sought to atone for the scandal. He asked for forgiveness for “negligence in the care of and respect for the temple” as well as for “scandals and abuses of vulnerable people”.

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Spain