LONDON — They've appeared in Dublin, Madrid and Washington D.C., gone on display at the Vatican and even been praised by Pope Francis as a "beautiful piece of art," but a Homeless Jesus artwork isn't welcome in London, according to Westminster Council.
The sculptures, casts of which have cropped up at several cities, has been blocked from appearing outside the Methodist Central Hall church and venue near Parliament Square in the heart of the city by officials.
They say it "would fail to maintain or improve (preserve or enhance) the character or appearance of the Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square conservation area".
The life-size bronze sculpture was created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz and inspired by Matthew: 25. It depicts a figure shrouded in a blanket with visible wounds on his feet and leaves enough room on the bench for someone else to sit down.
The work is a "representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society," Schmalz says.
The church has said they're "extremely disappointed" at the council's decision.
"We're led to the unfortunate conclusion that a sculpture of Jesus, depicted as homeless, isn't welcome in Westminster and so close to the Houses of Parliament," Reverend Dr. Martyn Atkins, Team Leader at Methodist Central, said.
"I imagine many people will find the Council suggestion that this particular piece of public art would somehow lower the tone of the neighbourhood insulting and ironic. Homelessness is real in Central London."
A petition has been launched asking the council to reconsider, and has currently received some 1,100 signatures.
Mashable has reached out to the council for comment.
940 people were counted as "rough sleepers" in London in autumn 2015, 26% of the national figure.
Related: Also see depictions of Jesus through time:
Depictions of Jesus Christ through time
'Homeless Jesus' sculpture banned from central London
GERMANY 1899: Copy of typical catholic image of heart of Jesus Christ from Slovakia printed on 19. April 1899 in Germany. (Photo via Getty)
(Photo via BBC)
Stained Glass Depicting Jesus Christ (Photo via Getty)
ITALY - FEBRUARY 02: Christ and Doubting Thomas, by Paolo Cavazzola (1486-1522). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images); Verona, Castelvecchio (Art Museum). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2010: Unknown Lombard artist (17th century), Christ Crowned with Thorns, 1600-1650, oil on canvas glued to board, 40x32 cm. (Inv. 896). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana. (Photo By DEA / P. MANUSARDI / VENERANDA BIBLIOTECA AMBROSIANA/De Agostini/Getty Images)
ITALY - DECEMBER 13: Risen Christ between Saints Peter and Paul, 16th century, artist from the Lombard school, oil on canvas, 138x120 cm. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images); Pavia, Musei Civici Del Castello Visconteo, Pinacoteca Malaspina (Art Gallery). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2010: Workshop of Guido Reni (1575-1642), Christ Crucified, 1640-1645, oil on canvas, 286x186 cm. (Inv. 1184). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana. (Photo By DEA / VENERANDA BIBLIOTECA AMBROSIANA/De Agostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JUNE 24: Christ tempted by Satan, by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), oil on canvas, 105x133 cm. Rome, Galleria Spada (Art Gallery) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
ROMANIA - DECEMBER 09: Christ on the Cross, detail from the altarpiece of Prejmer Fortified Church (13th century), Romania. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
FRANCE - CIRCA 2002: The Virgin and Christ, detail from The Pieta, 1474, by Jean Fouquet (ca 1415 - ca 1481), tempera on wood, 146x237 cm. St Martin's Church, Nouans-les-Fontaines, France. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images); . (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
PERU - CIRCA 2003: Christ on the cross, the Virgin and St John, 18th century painting on wood, School of Cuzco, Peru. Cuzco, Museo Del Convento De Santa Catalina (Art Museum) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
GERMANY - CIRCA 2002: The lamentation of Christ, 1480-1490, Master of the Housebook (active ca 1470-1500), oil on panel, 131x171 cm. Detail. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images); Dresda, GemÃ¤ldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery, Picture Gallery). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
ITALY - CIRCA 2002: Parma, Galleria Nazionale (Art Gallery), Palazzo Della Pilotta Lamentation over the Dead Christ, ca 1524, by Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (1489-ca 1534), oil on canvas, 157x182 cm. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 07: The face of Christ or the suffering Christ, 1515-1525, painting by Joan Gasco (active at the beginning of 16th century) from Vic Cathedral. Catalan Gothic art. Vic, Museu Episcopal (Art Museum) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
People followers of the Greek Orthodox Church kiss the feet of an image of Jesus crucified during the ceremony marking the Apokathelosis, the removal of Christ's dead body from the Cross, which forms a key part of Orthodox Easter, in a ceremony at the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Penteli, north Athens on May 3 , 2013. Millions of Greeks flock to churches around the country this week to celebrate Easter, the country's foremost religious celebration. AFP PHOTO / Angelos Tzortzinis (Photo credit should read ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The statue of Jesus, measuring 9.5 meters and tall 7.5 meters wide, and weighting 23 tons, overlooks the valley of Slovakia's Upper Orava region near the Slovak-Polish border in the village of Klin on November 25, 2010. The statue, strongly reminiscent of Rio De Janeiro's Jesus statue, was built on Gura hill in 2008 by local carpenter Peter Ganobjak and initiated by businesman Jozef Sroka. In 2009 smaller statue of late Pope John Paul II was built and placed on the same site. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker prepares to fit a wooden arm onto a Christ statue during preparations of the altar where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Plaza of the Revolution, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. When Francis arrives in Havana on Sept. 19, he'll find his church ministering to more Cubans than at any time since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
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