In a moment of sheer lunacy, the government of Bavaria recently ruled that all entrances to state buildings must display a Christian cross – a move that has annoyed many, including a Catholic cardinal.
Said Bavaria’s new leader, Markus Söder, pictured hanging a cross in the entrance area of the Bavarian state chancellery in Munich on April 24, 2018:
It stands for elemental values, such as charity, human dignity and tolerance.
The state government said in a statement that hanging crosses in public buildings is :
A visible commitment to the basic values of the legal and social order in Bavaria and Germany.
But Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, above, who as recently as 2015 asserted that crosses should be displayed in classrooms and courtrooms, roundly criticised the April decision. He is quoted here as saying that the cross is:
A sign of opposition to violence, injustice, sin and death, but not a sign [of exclusion] against other people..
The cross can be misunderstood as purely a cultural symbol, he said, and thus misused by the state. It is not up to the state to explain what a cross means, the cardinal emphasised, saying that Bavaria’s government has triggered “division, unrest and adversity” with the order.
But the move was welcomed by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Bavaria’s Regensburg diocese, above. He said:
The cross is the epitome of Western culture. It is the expression of a culture of love, compassion and affirmation of life. It belongs to the foundations of Europe.
Its public presence — which in traditionally Catholic Bavaria is near ubiquitous — should be seen as such, he said, and welcomed and appreciated.
This is the reason, Bishop Voderholzer said, that Christians have placed crosses atop the peaks of Bavarian mountains:
Not the national flag or other symbols of human rule, as others might have liked to see at other times, but the cross. It should be widely visible, the cross, the sign of salvation and life in which Christ is heaven and earth, God and reconciled people, victims and perpetrators.
Söder and other politicians of the state’s governing Christian Social Union party disagreed with Cardinal Marx’s interpretation of the government’s decision.
The accusation that the government would attempt to misappropriate the cross or designate it as a purely cultural symbol was flatly rejected by Söder, a Lutheran who hails from the Protestant region of Franconia in northern Bavaria. He insisted:
Of course, the cross is primarily a religious symbol.
This was also emphasised by Catholic commentator Birgit Kelle in an editorial for the newspaper Die Welt:
Every Muslim, every atheist, and every other believer can feel safe under this cross, which does not constitute a claim to power, but a commitment to treat each person equally and decently, regardless of their background, faith, ability, or gender.