France: Court Orders Removal of a Statue of Our Lady

The association Libre Pensée de Charente-Maritime is demanding, in the name of secularism, the removal of the religious symbol.  

Newsroom (07/03/2022 10:45 AM, Gaudium PressIt seems that Catholic France continues to be a nuisance…

A Statue of Our Lady located in the public space of La-Flotte-en-Ré, in the Charente-Maritime district of southwestern France, in the region of New Aquitaine, will have to be removed. This is what the Administrative Court of Poitiers decided this Thursday, March 3, to the chagrin of many residents, after the Association Libre Pensée (Free Thought) of Charente-Maritime filed a lawsuit demanding the removal of the image.

In defense of secularism, this association invoked the 1905 law on the separation of Church and State, which prohibits the installation of a monument of a religious nature in a public place.

 “We respect the absolute freedom of conscience, but the law has to be respected. It is a logical decision,” insists Claude Biardeau, president of Libre Pensée de Charente-Maritime.

The municipality of La Flotte-en-Ré will have to remove the image “illegally erected in its public domain” and “within six months,” the court decreed.

Initially, this image of Our Lady was erected on a private site by a family to give thanks for the return of their living relatives after World War II. In the 1980s, the image was installed at a new intersection at the entrance of the city.

Thus, the image ended up in the public domain with the approval of Léon Gendre, the “very secular” former mayor of La Flotte-en-Ré.

The case would have ended there if not for an accident by a driver who hit the image in May 2020. Reduced to pieces, the image was rebuilt identically and reinstalled in the same place by the mayor’s decision.

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“The population is unanimous in considering that the image is part of a historical heritage, in the same way as a statue of a king or Napoleon,” stressed Mayor Jean-Paul Héraudeau, who does not rule out the possibility of appealing the decision.

For their part, the residents have mobilized to prevent the removal of the image through a petition that has already collected about 6,600 signatures.

Compiled by Camille Mittermeier

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