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The cross at Ground Zero a symbol of hope

· The reply to an atheist association’s controversy in New York ·

“The cross is a symbol of consolation and comfort for everyone who lost loved ones and of hope for those who survived”, is the reply from the Christian community in New York to the controversy, begun by the Association of American Atheists, about the transfer of a 6 metres high cross-shaped steel beam, previously located near a church in the area of Ground Zero — site of the tragic events of 11 September 2001 — to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. After a blessing ceremony, the “World Trade Center Cross”, will be visible to the eyes of visitors of the museum, as of 2012, but for the Association which promotes the rights of atheists — which has filed a case with the New York State Supreme Court — it represents a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the civil rights laws of the State of New York. According to the Association, the museum, which was built with public funds, cannot host the symbol of just one religion, because, “it would diminish the civil rights of atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims and all other non-Christians, in so far as the cross promotes Christianity above all other religions”.

Fr Brian Jordan, a Franciscan, who presided at the blessing ceremony and provided pastoral care for the workers involved in the reconstruction of Ground Zero, emphasizes that the cross is a symbol, “of consolation and comfort for those who lost loved ones, but it also gave hope and support to the living, especially the rescue and recovery workers, firefighters, police officers, construction workers and many others”. The initiative against the Christian symbol has also provoked the reaction of the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian organization which promotes religious liberty throughout the world and has filed a brief in opposition to the lawsuit, observing that “the question raised is profoundly selfish and without merit”. The President of the 9/11 Memorial, Joe Daniels, said that the cross, “represents an important part of the commitment to telling the history of September 11th, in a way that nothing else could”.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 21, 2018

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