Corinne Diserens, the Swiss head of the Museion museum of contemporary art at Bolzano in the Italian Alps, was “released from her duties with immediate effect” by the new provincial government in Alto Adige after local elections.

The decision was a result of “the difficult financial situation” caused in part by “unauthorised spending”, officials said. Reports indicated that the museum was running a budget deficit of €500,000 (£390,000).

Supporters of Ms Diserens, including Hans Heiss, the head of the local Green Party, said that the real reason was “the row over the frog”.

The wooden sculpture by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger depicts a 4ft frog wearing a green loin cloth. It is nailed to a brown cross with a beer mug in one outstretched hand and an egg in the other. Its tongue hangs out of its mouth. in Times Online

It's sad to see the Catholic church lose the appetite for modern art that has served it so well since it commissioned a young, untried painter to create that masterpiece of wilful self-expression and rampant nudity, the Sistine ceiling.

The Pope's call for an Italian museum to take German artist Martin Kippenberger's crucified frog off display is not just stupid - how can Catholicism really be menaced by one work of art? And are Italians really to be denied free thought? - but a betrayal of the Vatican's excellent record of appreciating modernism.

Unlike Protestantism, which began as an attack on "idolatrous" images, Catholicism believes in and trusts the power of the image. Its own traditions are experimental. Caravaggio created his great art of the street and the body as propaganda for the counter-reformation: since the sixteenth century, the church has always been ready to dare to portray the Christian narrative in more outrageous ways to keep it vital. In the twentieth century, it bought paintings by Francis Bacon and Salvador Dalí for the Vatican museum and got Matisse and Le Corbusier to design Catholic chapels.

A few days ago I stood astounded by bizarre popular art in churches in Sicily that included an altar decorated with human shin bones. When Damien Hirst makes religious art in the same vein, he's simply paying homage to existing, everyday Catholic images.

So what's so shocking about a frog? Perhaps the German Pope has a secret Lutheran impulse. But, in fact, Kippenberger is a totally subversive artist who believed in nothing, insulted everything. Most modern art that takes on religious subject matter - even Bacon's paintings, though he was an atheist - has a respect for its human seriousness.

The church can appropriate any modern art that has the least hint of gravitas. What it can't deal with so easily is blatant irreverence. No one is going to be drawn to the faith by a crucified frog. (Photograph: Museion Museum/Reuters) in JJ's blog