French mayor to fight court order to remove statue of Pope St John Paul II

A statue of Pope St John Paul II must be removed from a public square in the small town of Ploermel in France, according to a court which says it violates the separation of church and state.

Taking issue with the “ostentatious” location and size of the 29-foot statue, which shows the saint praying under an arch that supports a cross and reads “do not be afraid”, the administrative court of Rennes said the main problem with the statue was its public display under a cross

The court said the monument violated the constitutional principle of laicite, which sharply distinguishes between government and religious matters.

Ploermel’s Mayor, Patrick Le Diffon, said he will appeal the court order because “it wasn't for the man of the church, but for the man of state that the monument was dedicated in a public square”. When the statue was first unveiled, the town’s then mayor said the saint had been “a giant of the 20th century who participated in the fall of the Iron Curtain”.