Atheists in predominantly Catholic Italy said Monday they plan to begin a bus advertising campaign denying the existence of God following similar advertisements in Spain and Britain.
The launch is set for the northern Italian city of Genoa on February 4.
The proposed campaign slogan -- "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him." -- has been condemned by the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Genoa, whose Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco is president of the influential Italian Bishops Conference.
"There are some methods which promote dialogue and others which feed intolerance. Head-on opposition always demonstrates intolerance," said Father Gianfranco Calabrese, responsible for the diocese's catechism.
The Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR), which is behind the publicity campaign, said it is setting out "to challenge" conventional religious beliefs "on Bagnasco's turf."
The archbishop has spoken out against events such as Gay Pride in Genoa, which was held last year on the same day in June as a Catholic feast day.
UAAR also criticised Bagnasco's many speeches against gay marriage and artificial insemination.
Similar advertisements denying the existence of God started appearing on buses in Spain on Monday as part of a campaign inspired by an initiative that got under way earlier this month in Britain.