An ongoing row over a sculpture of a crucified frog on show in a Bolzano, Italy, museum gained momentum when a Catholic politician reported the work to the police for public obscenity.
The sculpture, which depicts a warty, pop-eyed amphibian nailed to a cross with a frothing mug of beer in one hand and an egg in the other, has been at the center of furious polemics ever since it went on display in May.
But the row has heated up after Pope Benedict XVI's arrival in the nearby town of Bressanone for his summer holiday.
Right-wing separatist party the Union for South Tyrol said Wednesday it had collected 10,000 signatures supporting the removal of the work, while the president of Trentino-Alto Adige regional council, Franz Pahl, entered his eighth day of a hunger strike in protest over the frog.
Local bishop Wilhelm Egger - a strong critic of the work from the start - said on Tuesday that he had discussed the sculpture with the pope, although he would not comment on the pontiff's views on the matter. "The crucified frog has shocked many visitors to the Museion and has hurt their religious feelings," Egger said.