Accessibility links

Breaking News

Paris Renames Notre Dame Square After Pope John Paul II Amid Protest

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has officially renamed the square in front of Notre Dame cathedral after Pope John Paul II, despite protests by AIDS activists.

Mayor Delanoe called the late pontiff "a messenger of peace" who had the courage to address the church's past mistakes and to serve as a force for freedom.

He said Paris has always honored those who make their mark on humanity.

But activists, who interrupted the mayor's speech, said that for them the pope was a symbol of death because of what they called the church's failure to acknowledge its mistakes over AIDS.

Roman Catholic Church policy bans the use of condoms as a form of birth control and says abstinence is the best way to stop AIDS.

Several cardinals have suggested that married couples be allowed to use condoms if one of the partners has AIDS.

The decision to rename the square after Pope John Paul II was voted through the city council in June. About 12 million tourists visit the site each year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.