Irish artist Kevin Sharkey, 47, knows how to create controversy. Next month his painting which depicts Pope Benedict officiating the marriage of two gay men, is set to go on display in Dublin.

Entitled 'You May Now Kiss the Groom,' Sharkey's painting is certain to provoke outrage and laughter in about equal measure.

Sharkey, an acclaimed Irish artist, produced the startling image after the Pontiff labelled gay marriage one of the most 'insidious and dangerous' threats to the world today.

Donegal-born Sharkey says he hoped the work would put the Pope's claim in context, and show the couple in an innocent and inoffensive light.

Sharkey told the press: 'I got the idea for this piece when I read a newspaper headline, where the Pope had labelled gay marriage the biggest threat to our society. I am familiar with the traditional stance which the Catholic Church is expected to take, but I just felt condemning thousands of innocent people with such strong remarks is both unchristian and insulting.

'When I think all the evil in the World, from terrorism, to disease, to famine, I find it horrifying that a man with The Pope's incredible power and influence can only focus on something as minor as gay marriage.

'I think some of the recent revelations of disgraceful behaviour by Priests within the Catholic Church is much more evil and disturbing than two people who wish to formally express their love.'

Kevin Sharkey' 'You May Now Kiss the Groom'