Wednesday, November 04, 2009

European Court of Human Rights orders Italy to remove Crucifixes

The Post & Email
November 4, 2009 by John Charlton


(Nov. 4, 2009) — Rogue courts are not endemic to the United States alone, nor are rogue justices who use their authority to undermine the Christian culture of the common man.

Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Italian Government must remove Crucifixes from all the rooms in all the public schools of the nation. The reason: they offend the religious sensibility of one Finnish student, in a small village, outside of Padua, in Northern Italy.

The Post & Email reported last Friday that the European Union was about to adopt a legally binding Charter of Human Rights, which was written so vaguely that it would allow the encroachment of bureaucrats upon the rights of individuals. Yesterday that was confirmed according to numerous comments from leading politicians and clergymen in Italy.

The Court’s ruling cited the presence of the Cross with the image of Christ crucified as a violation of the rights of parents to educate their children according to their own convictions, and of the students’ liberty of religion. The

Court’s actual words were:

The presence of the Crucifix, which is impossible not to notice in the student’s classrooms, could easily be interpreted by students of all ages as a religious symbol. Such a display in an educational setting has the smack of religious instruction*

In Italy, in all public rooms of schools and government buildings, from town halls to the Parliament chambers, it has been customary for centuries to place a Cross depicting Christ’s crucifixion, as a sign of Christ’s Sovereignty over men, and of the adherence of the Nation to the Christian religion. In recent decades it has been justified as a culture sign of the Christian history of the nation.

Mariastella Gelmini, Minister of Education for the Italian Republic immediately announced that the Italian Government would appeal the decision of the Court of Human Rights to the plenary assembly of justices, known as the Grand Camera, whose jurisdiction concerns disputes regarding the fundamental obligation of signatories to the European Union’s charter.

Father Frederico Lombardi, spokesman for Pope Benedict XVI reacted with dismay at news of the ruling, saying:

The crucifix has always been a sign of God’s offering of love and of the union and acceptance of all humanity. It is deplorable that it has come to be considered as as sign of division, of exclusion or of a limitation of liberty. It is not this, not is it such in the sentiments of our nation.

In particular, it is grave crime to want to marginalize from the world of education the fundamental sign of the importance of religious values in the history and culture of Italy. Religion gives a precious contribution to the formation and moral growth of the human person, and is an essential component of our civilization. It is wrong and myopic to want to exclude it from the reality of contemporary education.

I am shocked that a European Court would intervene so heavily in a matter so profoundly tied to the historical, cultural, and spiritual identity of the Italian people.

This is not the way to attract us to love and share the idea of a united Europe, as we Catholic Italians have done from its origins.

Gianfranco Fini, president of the House of Deputies, said:

I hope that the sentence will not considered a just affirmation of the secularity of public institutions, which value is something much more than the negation proper to the worse kind of secularism, a negation of the very role of Christianity in society and in the identity of Italy.

Sandro Boni, the Minister for Cultural Affairs, and chairman of Berlusconi’s “People of Liberty” political bloc, forewarned the decision would lead to the breakup of the European Union, if left to stand:

These decisions distance us from the idea of Europe presented by De Gasperi, Adenauer and Schuman. From this point onward the political failure of the Union is inevitable.

See also:

From Adnkronos, "
Italy: Court crucifix 'ban' provokes fiery debate"

From the Irish Examiner, "Ruling may see crucifixes ban in classrooms"

From the Boston Herald, "Ban on crucifixes in school riles Vatican"

From Catholic World News, "Classroom crucifix violates human rights, European court rules"


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