PARIS (AP) _ The Catholic Church has criticized a movie poster that shows a cross blended with a red swastika, saying the advertisement for the upcoming film ``Amen'' is unacceptable.

``Superimposing the Christian cross on the Nazi cross creates an intolerable identification between the symbol of Christian faith with that of Nazi barbarism,'' Monsignor Jean-Pierre Ricard, president of the Conference of French Bishops, said in a statement Wednesday.

``To twist the meaning of a symbol that represents the faith of so many men and women is an unacceptable lack of respect,'' he said.

Designed by Oliviero Toscani, best known for his provocative Benetton fashion ads, the poster is intended to convey the film's assertion that the Vatican bears partial responsibility for the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust by having remained silent.

The film by Greek-born director Constantin Costa-Gavras is based on the story of an SS officer who struggled in vain to convince Protestant and Catholic leaders in Germany and the pope to condemn the Holocaust.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Wednesday the Vatican was issuing no comment on the screening of the film. But the Vatican has consistently defended its wartime pope ever since controversy surrounding Pius' role during the Holocaust erupted in the 1960s.

The French-produced, English-language film is competing for the annual Berlin festival's top award, the Golden Bear.