Disgraceful: French court orders the removal of Virgin Mary statue – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Disgraceful: French court orders the removal of Virgin Mary statue

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A French court has ordered a small town to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary, saying the religious display violates the separation of church and state.

The statue stands at a crossroads in La Flotte, a commune of 2,800 people on the popular holiday island of Ile-de-Re off France’s Atlantic coast.

The statue was erected by a local family after World War II in gratitude for a father and son who made it back alive from the conflict.

Its original home was a private garden, but the family later donated it to the community, who built it at the crossroads in 1983.

In 2020, it was damaged by a passing car and local authorities decided to restore the statue and put it back in the same place, but this time on a raised platform.

The move prompted a lawsuit from La Libre Pensee 17, an association dedicated to defending secularism, on the grounds that a 1905 French law banned religious monuments in public spaces.

A court in Poitiers followed the reasoning and on appeal, the Bordeaux regional court ordered La Flotte to remove the statue, it said in a statement.

Local Mayor Jean-Paul Heraudeau called the discussion about the statue “ridiculous” because he said it was part of the city’s “historical heritage” and should be considered “more of a memorial than a religious statue”, reports RTE.

But while the court admitted that authorities did not want to express religious preferences, it also said that “the Virgin Mary is an important figure in Christian religion,” which gives it “an inherently religious character”, reports RTE.

According to Catholic teaching, which dates back to the New Testament, God chose Mary to give birth to Jesus while remaining a virgin through the Holy Spirit.

Catholicism and many other religions venerate Mary as a central figure in their beliefs, and she has been the subject of countless works of art over the centuries.

La Flotte has six months to remove the statue, the court said.

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