Romanian Orthodox Church condemns posters of doctors as saints. ‘A blasphemous act’

Vasile Banescu, a spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate, denounced billboards depicting doctors and nurses as “saints” with coronavirus-shaped halos as a blasphemous “visual mistreatment of Christian iconography” on Wednesday.

The posters, created by Romanian artist Wanda Hutira for the McCann Worldgroup ad agency’s “Thank you doctors” campaign and posted throughout Bucharest, have also offended the Medical Guild, Banescu said.

The scandalous images combine eclectic elements of Indian religious art and Orthodox iconography. In one image, a character wearing a robe, goggles, stethoscope, and mask, blesses with his right hand, as does Christ in Orthodox iconography, while holding a medical chart in his left. In another, a nurse is depicted with several hands, as in images of the god Shiva, the creator and destroy of the universe in Hindu mythology.

All the characters have halos in the shape of the coronavirus.

Banescu responded strongly: “I think this is a ridiculous campaign to promote a dystopian vision of the situation caused by the pandemic; an embarrassing attempt at symbolic theft and visual mistreatment of Christian iconography, marked by bad taste fed by ignorance and a hideous ideology that only knows how to caricature Christianity.”

The images are an affront to the hard-working doctors and nurses themselves, Banescu believes: “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.”

Bucharest city hall said it would ask the advertising firm to remove the billboards, “which could be replaced with images that bring homage to hero doctors without offending the faith of passersby,” reports Reuters.

“[They’re] 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.

“Doctors saved lives before Covid-19 and will save afterwards. Their skills outweigh those of using a stethoscope (they can do without and can do with more equipment). What doctors do for patients exceeds what is recorded in the observation sheet, including on a personal, human level,” resident doctor Adina Nenciu wrote on Facebook.

“But medicine and doctors also have limits. Beyond that, some (not all, I agree here) have recognized Jesus Christ, the Physician par excellence,” she added.

Photography source: OrthoChristian

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