Romania: Orthodox Church blasts posters of doctors as saints


A man walks by a depiction of a medical staff wearing protective equipment, executed in the style of Christ Pantocrator, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. The artwork, among others depicting medical staff in the manner of religious icons, created by designer Wanda Hutira, is part of a campaign called Thank You Doctors, meant to raise awareness to the work of medical staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Following public pressure by Romania’s influential Orthodox church the artworks, described as “blasphemous”, will be removed from all locations in the Romanian capital, according to the agency behind the project.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s Orthodox Church on Wednesday criticized a billboard campaign showing doctors dealing with the coronavirus epidemic as saints with halos shaped like the virus.

According to a church spokesman, the “blasphemous” campaign created by international advertising agency McCann Worldgroup in conjunction with local artist Wanda Hutira is “a visual abuse of Christian iconography.”

The campaign is “marked by bad taste fed by ignorance and a hideous ideology that only knows how to caricaturize Christianity,” said spokesman Vasile Banescu.

The posters, which could be seen this week in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, were also offensive to doctors who “do not think of themselves as saints … and do not ask for public worship,” Banescu said, claiming that the campaign promotes “a dystopian vision of the situation caused by the pandemic.”

In response to the criticism, Bucharest officials said they would ask the posters to be taken down.

While the Catholic Church in Romania did not take an official position on the campaign, Serban Tarciziu, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bucharest, told local media that he appreciated “the attempt to illustrate a beautiful idea in the visual style” of some religions.

Romania has reported 11,978 coronavirus cases and 681 deaths.

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