Vatican trashes new pope sculpture

By Staff | May 20, 2011 | 6:28 AM EDT

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in St. Peter's square for the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 18, 2011. In background right, a giant poster of late Pope John Paul II. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) — The Vatican has slammed a giant new modernist sculpture that portrays John Paul II, saying the bronze work outside Rome's main train station doesn't even look like the late pontiff.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said Friday the towering statue gives the impression a bomb hit the square.

The artist, Oliviero Rainaldi, depicts the pontiff as if he is opening his cloak to embrace the faithful. But the Vatican says the effect is more like a police sentry box than a welcoming pontiff.

Some at the station Friday described the sculpture as hideous. Two tell the AP the figure looks more like the late dictator Benito Mussolini than the widely-beloved Polish-born pontiff.