.- A judge in Argentina has ordered the removal of an image of Our Lady of St. Nicholas from the countryâs Supreme Court building.
Judge Susana CÃ³rdoba ruled in favor of a suit brought by the Association for Civil Rights, an anti-religious group, which claimed the presence of the image or of any religious symbol âwould jeopardize the principle of judicial impartiality.â
Fr. Jorge Oesterheld, spokesman for the Bishops Conference of Argentina, told reporters CÃ³rdobaâs decision âsurprises a country whose Catholic tradition is part of the national culture.â
According to Fr. Oesterheld, the presence of Catholic symbols in public places âhas never implied religious discrimination nor been an obstacle to freedom of religion.â
Other Church leaders emphasized that the image was put in place by a group of laymen and not by Church authorities.
Several months ago the Argentinean Supreme Court ruled that âthe Catholic religion is a fundamental fact of Argentinaâs culture and social reality.â
Various organizations have announced their intention to appeal the decision by Judge CÃ³rdoba all the way to the Supreme Court.
Dr. Roberto Castellano, President of the group âPro-Life,â denounced the ruling and called it a âsneaky campaign of persecution against what has historically been the faith of the majority of Argentineans.â
âThis same logic,â he said, âwould have us outlaw the memory of Generals San MartÃn and Belgrano,â who fought for the independence of the country, âsince both of them consecrated their fight for independence to the Virgin Mary, who this judge now wants to send into exile.â