Nativity scene sparks Spanish legal row

18th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

A judge objects to a Christmas nativity scene placed in the state prosecutors’ office; says it violates Spain’s 1978 constitution.

MADRID – Some of Spain's top legal minds have clashed over a Christmas nativity scene at the state prosecutors' office, after a senior official objected that its presence there was unconstitutional.

Lawyer Olga Sanchez decided to place the small display in the hall of the building in Madrid, the daily El Mundo reported Wednesday.

But just hours later, top judge Pilar Barrero objected to its presence. Placing a religious symbol there violated Spain's 1978 constitution, which ensures the separation of Church and State, he said.

Although some lawyers argued that a nativity scene was a cultural tradition rather than a religious one, the display was removed on the order of the number two in prosecutors' office, Juan Martin Casallo.

A spokesman for the office confirmed the report in El Mundo.

The row comes amid a debate over secularism in Spain, where Catholic symbols remain prominent in public life 30 years after the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco who had raised Catholicism to the level of a "state religion".

Spain's Socialist government said last week it was preparing a new law on religious freedom that aims to give greater respect for religious diversity and secularism.

[AFP / Expatica]

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