French diocese buys controversial John Paul II statue

French diocese buys controversial John Paul II statue

BY Arnaud Bevilacqua/ la-croix.com

The controversial issue of the statue of John Paul II in the Brittany town of Ploermel will soon come to an end.

Except for three abstentions on March 1, the municipal council of Ploërmel, a Brittany town of 10,000 inhabitants, unanimously approved the sale to Vannes Diocese of an imposing cross-topped statue of Polish Pope John Paul II.

Installed at a small car park on Dec. 9, 2006, the statue quickly became the center of a controversy that reached France’s highest judicial tribunal.

Last Oct. 25, the French State Council gave the town six months to remove the statue on the basis that it infringed secularism laws, allowing time for it to be moved.

As a result, the statue will be moved out of public space meaning it will no longer be subject to the provisions of France’s 1905 law on separation of church and state.
This is the outcome of a long judicial battle launched by the Morbihan Federation of Free Thinkers after the statue was donated to the town by the Russian-Georgian artist Zourab Tsereteli.

Having stayed in the background of the dispute in which it was not directly involved, Bishop Raymond Centène explained in a statementthat the Diocese of Vannes had decided to purchase the statue in order “to restore concord,” “ensure the visibility of the cross as a Christian symbol at the heart of the city,” “preserve the integrity of the work at a location very close to where it is at present,” and finally “to comply with the law.”

The diocese agreed to purchase the statue for 20,000 euros, a surprising amount given that it was initially donated to the town.

According to the municipal decision, the price was based on “a common agreement between the parties.”

The diocese also confirmed that the statue was not sold for the symbolic price of one euro so as to avoid any risk of further legal action.

The monument will be moved several meters to the site of the Sacred Heart private school, where it will remain visible from the street.

Bishop Centène added that “a place for meditation and prayer devoted to St. John Paul II” will also be established there.

“The space will meet the wishes of all those who have worked over recent months to ensure that the Christian symbols bequeathed by our history will remain present, visible and living,” he said.

However, the diocese will also bear the cost of moving the statue, which is estimated at 97,000 euros.

To finance this exceptional expense, in the final episode of this long-running soap opera, a campaign entitled “Save the statue of St John Paul II” will be launched.

Bishop Centène explained that the project was a means of expressing “the vitality of the Christian roots of our civilization.”

The date for moving the statue has not yet been decided but in principle it needs to be removed from municipal land by April 26.

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 13:12
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