Pope Jean-Paul II Statue Moved to Avoid French Secularism Laws


A 13-ton statue of late pope Jean-Paul II was moved Monday to "private land" in northwestern France following a court ruling it had to be taken down due to strict secularism laws separating church and state.

A crane lifted the papal statue from a square in the town of Ploermel, Brittany, about 30 meters to nearby private land after an outcry by French secularists over it standing in a public place.

"This is the outcome, compliance with French law, respect for secularism and the decision of the Council of State," said Father Christophe Guegan, parish priest at Ploermel, adding he hoped "that it brings peace to the city".

The statue, by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, was erected under an arch topped by a cross in 2006.

But the National Federation for Free Thought, a non-profit humanist organization, took the issue to court alongside two local residents.

French Catholic authorities expressed anger last October after France's highest administrative court ruled that the cross breached France's 1905 secularism law, which forbids religious symbols from being displayed on public monuments.

By installing the statue on private land, the statue of the Polish pope theoretically no longer breaks the 1905 law. 

At one stage, the Polish government had proposed moving the statue to Poland due to the row.

Comments 2
Missing phillipo 12 June 2018, 07:03

In France are the churches owned/financed by the state. If so there must be many crosses and other religious symbols in them.
Does the law mean that when a senior church dignitary goes onto the street in his robes is breaking the law, as those robes almost certainly have at least one cross on them?

Missing cimitero 16 June 2018, 18:41

A church dignitary is not a public monument so he can display his crosses in public. Although I am an agnostic and support secularism I apposed how atheists have been hiding behind the cloaks of secularism to attack any kind of religiosity especially Christianity. That is how in many western countries Merry Christmas was turned into Happy Holiday by a handful of overzealous bureaucrats. In the Scandinavian counties some groups began calling for the national flags with the Nordic Cross to be replaced.