The progressive neighbor of the United States is in the spotlight once again as Montreal, the largest city in Canada’s Quebec province, has removed a crucifix that sits in city hall because “we’re in a different time now.”
The Christian symbol isn’t necessarily illegal in Canada — which is secular but doesn’t have a strict separation of church and state engrained within its founding documents — but city officials said it wasn’t inclusive (and they’re right). They took the cross down as construction occurs in the council chamber, but they have no plans to put it back up.
The administration says the renovations are an opportunity to remove the crucifix.
The crucifix is an important part of Montreal’s heritage and history, but as a symbol, it does not reflect the modern reality of secularism in democratic institutions, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said.
“The decision is a recognition of the role of secularism in the institution, and for me, there is a stark distinction between individual and institutional secularism,” Plante said.
She added: “This is a place where we make decisions and it was originally put there to support decision making… I think we’re in a very different time now.”
It’s nice to see a group of politicians that actually practice inclusion and understand the importance of separating church and state. Of course, the Catholic Church didn’t see it that way.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal issued a statement Wednesday afternoon which didn’t overtly criticize the move but stressed that the crucifix is symbolic of the city’s roots and “a love for all humanity.”
“Nothing forbids us, and our respective beliefs, from being present in the public space in an attitude of respect and openness, since we share the same common humanity,” said the spokesperson for the archibishop, Erika Jacinto.
There may not be any law against the religious display, but I would certainly dispute that a symbol of torture represents “a love for all humanity” to most. In fact, to me it represents the Catholic controversies involving sexual abuse of young kids.
Still, Catholics are pushing back hard against the common-sense decision. The move means the city “doesn’t need Christ,” according to Catholic News Agency.
I couldn’t agree more. City hall will be just fine without the religious symbol hanging on the wall.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Reg for the link)