Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said directing all state buildings to hang crosses amounts to "expropriating the cross in the name of the state." Bavarian Premier Markus Söder sparked nationwide criticism for the move.
Marx's rebuke follows public criticism from other religious leaders and politicians in Germany.
The head of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), Christian Lindner, wrote on Twitter: "The way Markus Söder and the CSU constantly exploit religion for their party politics is reminiscent of [Turkish President Recep] Erdogan. The constitution has no religion!"
Söder, who assumed office in March, leads a conservative government under the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Claudia Roth, a Green party lawmaker and vice president of the German parliament, accused Söder of marginalizing millions of Muslims, atheists and Jews. "[He] intentionally mixes religion and politics," she said.
The populist AfD's Betarix von Storch is more worried about what she thinks is "Christianity surrendering" with "Cardinal Marx at the helm," according to a tweet. "He lays down the cross at Temple Mount, and he doesn't want it in public buildings either," she quips, saying that this capitulation is why "Islamization has space" to unfold.