(Paris) In 2011 a statue was built in a park of the French community Publier dedicated to Our Lady of Léman (near Lake Geneva). High up on a slope the statue has since looked down on Lake Geneva. Now was the Administrative Court of Grenoble, says the statue of Mary "violates secularism". It has stood on public land in France since 1905, but strict "separation of state and the Catholic Church" has rules. And because this is so, the statue has to be "removed". According to the Administrative Court, the local government should never have to issued a permit for the erection of the statue.
France's Don Camillo and Peppone Could Erect Statue of Mary
Publier is a town with 6,500 inhabitants. The town is located on the south shore about 120 meters above Lake Geneva in the midst of a wine region. With a wonderful location, the sunny-mild climate and suitable infrastructure, Publier has grown rapidly during the past decades. In 1962, the municipality had only 1,871 inhabitants.
Amazingly, Mayor Gaston Lacroix, a non-party leftists who belongs to the Divers Gauche in France. He has lead since 2002 the fortunes of the community. He was able to defend the mayor's office in the local elections in 2014. In the council, he has a lush majority of 22 seats, and is faced with only five representatives of the opposition UMP and two independent rightists. His current term ends 2020th
The Mayor with the pious name Lacroix (the cross) describes himself as a "freethinker" and socialist and a member of the Association de la Libre Pensée de Haute-Savoie , as Lorenz Jäger in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
"Our Lady of the Lake Geneva Watch over your children"
He is disappointed abou the decision of the Administrative Court: "I did not think it would come so far. The statue is a reference point for all. All have supported me, even the Muslims." Pastor Robert COLLOUD is also disappointed. He had organized together with Mayor Lacroix moving the statue. It is a modern remake of Don Camillo and Peppone.
The free thinker and the priest knew the perils of secular state doctrine, which applies in republican France as an untouchable taboo. Since there was broad consensus for the relocation of the statue, they were looking for a way to satisfy any applicable law and still be able to put up the statue. And they believed this path has also been found.
The municipality leased a few square meters of public parks with the symbolic rent of three euros per square meter at a private club. Then on the other hand priest COLLOUD could locate it on the parish. The club was set up to make the statue and the small area in the park with the pedestal inscription: Notre-Dame-du-Léman veille sur tes enfants (Our Lady of the Lake Geneva watch over your children).
"Free thinkers" Insist on Secular State Dogma
However, not all "free thinkers" and socialists think like Lacroix. The Fédération nationale de la Libre Pensée (National Freethinkers Association) went against the statue before the Administrative Court. It is a disgrace that non-Christians would have to pass the statue in the park. The Administrative Court agreed in their favor. Of course, the judge did not address the question of reasonableness, but referred to the applicable rules. This prohibits the establishment of religious symbols on public property.
Mayor Lacroix is one of the "false" freethinkers club. Its Association of libres-penseurs de France (Union of Freethinkers of France) founded in 1901 was divided from the Fédération in 1995. The latter sees itself as the "guardian" of the law on separation of church and state. Its guiding principle is "to promote the rational and scientific principles to overcome the dogmas" led in fact to establish a secular dogma which the municipality Publier is experiencing.
"Je suis Marie"?
The freethinkers society celebrated the verdict: "A victory for secularism. Now the mayor must remove the statue. This will be a good example for youth. I wonder if the Catholic religion is indeed compatible with the Republic," said the representative of the Federation of Upper Savoy.
For now, it is unclear where the statue is to be placed. The freethinkers have already called for "the mobilization of all the forces of the Republic", should the mayor Lacroix not quickly implement the Administrative Court's decision.
Lorenz Jäger recommends: "Don Camillo should order buttons at the expense of the municipality: Je suis Marie".
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
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