Quebec gvmt may remove crucifix from National Assembly: report
QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the aftermath of announcing its plan to ban public employees from wearing overt symbols of faith, Quebec’s Parti Quebecois government has faced charges of hypocrisy because the legislation would exempt legislators and leave in place the crucifix that hangs in the province’s National Assembly.
On Oct. 1st, a group of topless women from the radical activist group Femen disrupted the legislature to protest the crucifix.
Despite pushing for an absolute separation of faith and public life in its Charter of Values, the government has insisted thus far that the crucifix will remain, not as an object of faith, but as a symbol of Quebec’s heritage. The crucifix was first hung in the National Assembly in 1936 by the Duplessis government.
Last week, however, the LaPresse daily newspaper reported that the government is considering eliminating the legislature’s exemption from the Charter of Values and removing the crucifix.
Reporter Denis Lessard says the decision comes because of the express wish of the electorate in 25,000 e-mails. He also reports that the Quebec bishops’ desire to have the crucifix removed was a “decisive” factor.
In an Oct. 9th statement, however, the Quebec Bishops Assembly denied having asked for the crucifix’s removal.
“It was placed there by the elected members and the decision to keep or remove it is the duty of the elected members in respect of the opinion of the population,” they wrote. “In this context, if the members democratically decide to remove the crucifix from the Blue Room, the Assembly of Bishops will respect this decision.”
At the same time, the bishops affirmed that legislators have a duty to ensure the crucifix is not reduced to a mere cultural artifact.
“The crucifix is a representation of the ultimate act of love, that of Christ giving his life for the salvation of the world,” they wrote. “He is revered by millions of Christians of all nations, and by the vast majority of Quebecers. This is not a museum object or just a reminder of the past or a piece of heritage. It must be treated with all the respect due to a symbol fundamental to the Catholic faith. Members must ensure that it is.”