Court orders removal of cross from St John Paul II statue
The Conseil d’Etat, France’s top administrative court, has ordered the removal of a cross from a statue of Pope Saint John Paul II in Ploërmel, a small city in Brittany. The court stated that the cross’ “presence in a public location is contrary to the law” and gave the town six months to comply with the order,
The 25 ft tall statue portrays Pope Saint John Paul II praying beneath an arch adorned with a cross. Since it was erected in 2006, the statue has been a source of controversy. It was criticized by some locals and the secularist National Federation of Free Thought, which campaigned for its removal.
France’s conservative parties have decried the court’s decision, which they describe as “madness” and “destructive to the country’s history.” users. The decision also led to a strong backlash on social media, with users staring a campaign in support of keeping the cross. Several people protesting against the decision on Twitter by using the hashtag #montretacroix (show your cross).
Patrick Le Diffon, the mayor of Ploërmel, considers the statue to be a work of art and is opposed to its dismantling. However, the mayor wants to avoid a religious battle and said he hopes to resolve the problem by selling the public land where the statue is located to a private investor who would keep the cross.
The court’s decision provoked a strong response from the late John Paul II’s native Poland and sparked a diplomatic feud between the two countries. Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydlo, said that religious censorship is undermining the values of Europe. Secularization and the dictatorship of political correctness are “alien to our culture, which leads to terrorizing Europeans in their everyday life,” she added.
“Our great Pole, a great European, is a symbol of a Christian, united Europe,” said Szydlo and offered to have the statue relocated to Poland, to save it from “the dictates of political correctness” and “secularization of the state.”