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2 Nov, 2017 20:34

40K sign petition to ‘defend the cross’ on Polish pope’s statue in France

40K sign petition to ‘defend the cross’ on Polish pope’s statue in France

An online petition, launched in a bid to save the cross on a monument to a Polish pontiff in a Breton town, has garnered more than 38,000 signatures. It followed a French court ordering the cross removed, since it goes against a national secularism law.

“We oppose the removal of the cross from public space,” reads the petition, initiated by Madrid-based conservative advocacy group CitizenGo on its website. More than 40,000 people have joined the appeal, which was launched four days ago.

Addressed to the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP) and the European Court of Human Rights, the petition calls on France to “respect the Christian roots of Europe.”

The cross in dispute belongs to an eight-meter-high monument of Pope John Paul II, who was widely admired in his native Poland. The bronze memorial, depicting the revered pontiff standing beneath an arch with a huge cross atop of it, was installed in the town of Ploermel in Brittany in 2006.

Last week, France’s Council of State, the highest administrative jurisdiction, ruled that the presence of the cross in a public location breached the 1905 law that separates church and state. While the court said the Pope’s statue itself could stay, it ordered Ploermel to remove the cross within six months.

A number of French lawmakers lashed out at the order, with some calling it “madness” and an “unfair decision.”“Remove religious symbols from the public space, our streets, our cemeteries? A society without soul and without history?” The Local quoted Roger Karoutchi, who represents the center-right Les Republicains party in the senate, as saying.

Twitter users joined in, with people sharing pictures of crosses under the hashtag #MontreTaCroix (Show Your Cross).

In the meantime, Poland’s right-wing prime minister, Beata Szydlo, came up with a solution, offering to save the monument “from censorship” by moving it to the pope’s native land. “Our great Pole, a great European, is a symbol of a Christian, united Europe,” she said.