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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Europe and the Cross

Crucifix Gerbépal.Image via Wikipedia

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).
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  1. Although I agree that the ECHR decision was wrong, due to faulty reasoning, the Italian government's defense rested partly on the argument that a cross WASN'T a religious symbol... It is therefore ironic that the same government now is changing its tune... For further reading, see Prof. Malcolm Evans, Bristol University

  2. It is revealing to see which countries have spoken out and which countries so far remain silent (and acquiescing?).

  3. I lived in Italy for forty years and my children attended Italian state schools for part of their schooling. Any group or church can found a school in Italy, but cannot use state funds for it. I did find it objectional that Catholic religious education was part of the curriculum (children could opt out, but there was usually anything else they could instead and the relisious education classes couldn't be scheduled for the first or last hour, so that those not taking it could arrive later or leave earlier) and that a crucifix was in every (state school) classroom. Besides my own belief that state and church should be separate, I found a crucifix in the classroom setting deeply blasphemous. I applaud the decision.