Saturday, February 6, 2010
Zenit reports that Italy is appealing a ban on crucifixes in public school classrooms imposed by the European Court of Human Rights. The appeal submitted to the court by the Italian government argues that "The display of the crucifix in schools should not be seen so much for its religious meaning but as reference to the history and tradition of Italy." It further states, "The message of the Cross encompasses a part of the history of Europe, of our western civilisation." Christianity is a cultural tradition, and public display of its symbols should be protected from the Court's purview to the extent that they are not shown to actually inhibit non-believer's religious freedom.
In an interview posted on the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Minister Franco Frattini explains, "We have to ask whether the simple presence of the Crucifix upsets non-believers or whether the demand that it be removed itself demonstrates intolerance of the religious dimension." He continues, "To the extent that it does not engage in conduct that clearly undermines the right to believe or not believe, each state is free to regulate the relationship between public spaces and the sacred dimension as it sees fit, in light of its historic, cultural and social identity."
It seem likely that the case will have an effect on the still-developing jurisprudence of religious liberty in the European court.