A diplomatic spat has erupted between France and Poland over a top court order to remove a cross from a statue of the late Pope Jean Paul II in a Brittany town because it breached rules on secularism.
Poland has pledged to save the work from the “dictates of political correctness” by having it shipped to the late pontiff’s native country.
Gifted in 2006 to the mayor of Ploërmel, western France, the 7.5 metre-high statue depicts Jean Paul II in prayer, standing beneath an arch adorned with a large cross.
However, after a decade-long battle, the Conseil d’Etat, France’s top administrative court, has ruled that the cross must be removed from the public space as it violates a 1905 law imposing the strict separation of Church and State.
The Council of State concluded that while the Pope and the arch can remain, the cross must be removed and it has given the town six months to do so.
Upon learning of its fate, Beata Szydło, prime minister of Poland where Jean Paul II is revered, offered to give the statue a new home to “save it from censorship”.
“Our great Pole, a great European, is a symbol of a Christian, united Europe,” she said.
SOURCE: Henry Samuel and Matthew Day