"Religious Symbols in the Cross Hairs," a Commentary by Father John Flynn

March 13, 2007

Author: Father John Flynn

Source: The Indian Catholic


ROME (Zenit.org): The presence of Christian symbols in public life is increasingly under challenge. Last October, a cross on the altar of a chapel at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, was removed on orders of college president Gene Nichol.

The decision sparked off a fierce debate, culminating in the announcement last week that the cross will return, reported the Washington Times on March 7. The cross, nevertheless, will not return to the altar, but will be placed on display in a glass case.

The decision came after dismayed college alumni had threatened to withhold millions of dollars in donations.

In a report on the controversy Dec. 26, the Washington Post newspaper noted that the college president wanted to remove the cross so as not to exclude students of non-Christian faith. The article did add, however, that prior to his decision anyone who used the chapel could ask for the cross to be removed for weddings or other services.

The College of William and Mary is the second-oldest in the United States, and its Wren Chapel was built in 1732. It became a state-supported institution in 1906. The cross, reported the Washington Post, was donated by Bruton Parish Episcopal Church and has been on display since the 1930s.