Spanish artist C. Tangana and Argentinian singer Nathy Peluso filmed parts of the video for their track “Ateo,” meaning “Atheist,” at the 13th-century Toledo Cathedral, one of Spain’s most famous religious buildings.
The video, released Thursday, shows C. Tangana and Peluso grinding against each other and dancing the bachata style in the cathedral and includes close-ups of the artwork featured on the cathedral’s walls.
“The Archbishop deeply regrets these events and condemns the scenes shot in the first church of the Archdiocese,” a statement issued Friday by the Archdiocese on behalf of Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves said.
“We humbly and sincerely ask for forgiveness from all the lay faithful, the consecrated and the priests, who have felt rightly hurt by this improper use of a sacred place,” the statement added.
The song’s lyrics include a chorus of “I was an atheist, but now I believe, because a miracle like you must have come down from heaven,” while the first verse asks forgiveness from the Virgin of Almudena for “what I do in your bed.”
Elsewhere in the video, a naked and partially pixelated Peluso is shown holding Tangana’s decapitated head, and at the end of the song, the two singers pose for a photo with priests and choirboys outside the cathedral.
Tangana also pulls on Peluso’s hair in an echo of one of the paintings inside the cathedral, which shows a demon pulling a woman’s hair to stop her reaching salvation at the Last Judgment. The painting is also used as the song’s artwork.
While the Archbishop pledged to “revise the procedures in place to avoid anything like this happening again,” the Dean struck a very different note in a statement also issued Friday.
Arguing the song “tells the story of a conversion through human love,” Dean Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche said the video’s final scenes where the singers pose for a photo showed the “understanding and welcoming of the Church.”
Although he acknowledged the “provocative visual language” used, he defended the decision to allow filming in the cathedral, saying the “sole purpose has been to boost dialogue with contemporary culture while preserving faith in the Church.”
Ferrer further said the song could “do good for those distanced from the Church” but apologized to those who had been hurt by it.
As of Saturday, the music video had more than 2 million views on YouTube