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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is facing widespread opposition to its ruling from last November against the display of crucifixes in Italian schools. An additional 20 countries have now joined Italy in defense of the public display of the cross.
At first 10 countries asked the court to annul the November decision: Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Romania, Russia and San Marino. Lithuania compared the banning to the religious persecution it suffered under communism, when religious symbols were similary banned from the classroom. Now another 10 countries have called the decision of the court into question: Albania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, FYR Macedonia, Moldavia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The governments of these countries have requested that national religious identities and traditions be respected, pointing out that in many countries, religious identity is a basis of the values, and a source of European unity.
There are 47 member states in the Council of Europe. With Italy, there are now 21 which publicly oppose November's ruling. Ironically, the Council of Europe states in its founding charter that there is an "unbreakable attachment" of the peoples of Europe to "the spiritual and moral values that make up its common patrimony."
(The Diocese in Europe has a presence in all these countries with the exception of Albania, Lithuania, Moldavia and San Marino).