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French residents file lawsuit against city's statue of Pope John Paul II

.- Some residents of a small town in Brittany have filed a lawsuit, claiming that the 29-foot statue of Pope John Paul II in the central town square violates the country’s 1905 law on the separation of church and state.

Controversial Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli presented the statue, which shows the late Pope standing in prayer beneath an arch topped by a cross, to the town of Ploermel.

Opponents to the statue claim that local authorities have wrongly poured 130,000 euros worth of public funds into the statue and its inauguration ceremony, reported the BBC.

The mayor's office insists the statue was a gift to the town from the artist and that no public funds have been used.

Speaking at its inauguration on Sunday, Ploermel's Mayor Paul Anselin defended the monument, saying that it remembers "a giant of the 20th century who participated in the fall of the Iron Curtain."

The artist was at the unveiling, attended by 1,000 people and a small group of protesters demonstrated at the unveiling, while a meeting of the statue's opponents took place in a nearby town.

The group - which organized a protest by 500 people against the monument last month - said it would continue its battle in the courts.

Among the sculptor's better-known works is a giant statue of Peter The Great and another of Diana, Princess of Wales, both in Moscow.

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