POPE BENEDICT XVI has protested at a sculptural portrayal of a crucified frog, saying it offends the religious sentiments of Christians, according to a critic of the work.
The sculpture, exhibited in a museum in the northern Italian city of Bolzano, prompted debate over the summer when the Pope was on holiday nearby. But the museum directors met and decided it would not be removed.
A work of the. late German artist Martin ICippenberger, it depicts a green frog nailed to the cross, holding a beer stein in one hand and an egg in the other. Its eyes are crossed and its tongue hangs out of its mouth.
Franz Pahl, a regional government official who has led a campaign to remove the work, said he had received a letter of support from the Vatican Secretariat of State expressing the Pope's sentiments.
The letter said the Pope believed the sculpture "has wounded the religious sendment of the many people who see in the cross the symbol of God's love and our salvation".
A Vatican source confirmed that a letter was sent, but did not confirm the contents.
Catholics first expressed outrage over the sculpture several months ago when the work went on display at the Museion Foundation. Bishop Wilhelm Egger of BolzanoBressanone, who died in August, said in May that the piece deeply offended Catholics.