German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was criticized on Friday for removing a 482-year-old crucifix from the site of a G7 meeting in the German city of Münster.
The Federal Foreign Office has had the historic wooden crucifix removed from the conference venue in Münster as part of a wider overhaul of the city’s town hall, a ministry spokesperson told Berlin. Baerbock of the Greens was not involved in the matter, he said.
“It was not a conscious decision, certainly not a political decision, but obviously an organizational decision,” Baerbock commented on Friday after meeting his G7 colleagues. “I wish we hadn’t put it away.”
Nonetheless, conservative Christian Democrats criticized the move as insensitive to tradition and history. Markus Söder, Bavarian Prime Minister of the Christian Social Union (CSU), who has controversially ordered crucifixes to be hung in public buildings in Bavaria in the past, complained in a Tweeter that it wouldn’t happen in any other country and asked, “Is this the new foreign policy?”
Thorsten Frei, a senior Christian Democratic Union (CDU) official, said “only those who respect their own tradition and social character can also approach others openly, confidently and assertively,” Welt reported. Frei argued that “the Christian image of man is precisely the common basis of the liberal and constitutional democracies of the G7 countries”, according to the newspaper.
Baerbock hosted foreign ministers from France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, with Germany currently holding the G7 presidency. The leaders discussed, among other issues, the consequences for Europe of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, transatlantic cooperation and relations with China.
Münster’s town hall is considered to have great symbolic value for Christianity in Europe as it was the site of the historic peace negotiations of Westphalia. The agreement ended the devastating Thirty Years’ War for religion across the continent.