The Orthodox Church of Romania said a series of outdoor posters depicting nurses and doctors as saints were blasphemous and an insult to Christianity. Frontline workers are seen as heroes during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. However, according to the Romanian Church, there is a clear difference between a hero and a saint.
The protests against the poster got the attention of the city hall of capital Bucharest, who said they would ask advertising firms to remove the advertisements.
The controversial artwork, which is created by Romanian illustrator, Wanda Hutira was part of a wider European campaign that depicts nurses and doctors in a style that mixes comic book elements with religious art. The posters were part of a “Thank you doctors” campaign by ad agency McCann Worldgroup.
The posters were generally well-received, but they also drew divisive comments on social media.
The Romanian Church’s spokesman, Vasile Banescu told Reuters: “It is a campaign to promote a dystopian vision over the situation induced by the pandemic.” He said the posters were “visual mistreatment of Christian iconography.”
According to Banescu, “It is not just a blasphemous act but also an insult to the very honourable profession of doctors who, like all of us, do not think they are saints or improvised saviours and do not demand a public cult.”
In a statement, Bucharest city hall said it would ask outdoor advertising firms to remove the posters “which could be replaced with images that bring homage to hero doctors without hurting the faith of passersby.”
The Romania branch of the McCann Worldgroup said in a statement: “The posters were a daring artistic choice, but one which is in no way following a political, religious or any other kind of purpose.”
McCann Romania said in a statement. “It is a gesture of gratitude for doctors.”
Romania, which declared a state of emergency on March 16 and enforced a nationwide lockdown a week later, has reported 11,978 cases of the coronavirus and 681 deaths.
The majority of Romanians in the European Union’s socially conservative eastern state of 20 million are Christian Orthodox, and the Church has considerable influence in the country.