According to the Associated Press, the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France, has just given Italy the okay to keep crucifixes in public school classroom, overturning its own decision of two years ago.
Friday’s final decision by the court’s Grand Chamber said it found no evidence “that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils.”
Friday’s ruling focused on Italian public schools, and does not automatically force other countries to allow crucifixes in the public schools, according to the court.
But it’s [sic] decisions affect all 47 countries that are members of the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights watchdog. Citizens in other Council of Europe countries who want religious symbols in classrooms could now use this ruling as a legal argument in national courts, or governments could use this as a justification to change their laws about religious symbols.
The Vatican, of course, is overjoyed:
The Vatican hailed the “historic” decision, saying it showed that crucifixes weren’t a form of indoctrination but rather “an expression of the cultural and religious identity of traditionally Christian countries.”
“It recognized that, on an authoritative and international judicial level, the culture of man’s rights must not be put in contradiction with the religious fundamentals of European civilization, to which Christianty has given an essential contribution,” said a statement from the Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Similar “cultural tradition” arguments are used in America to justify similar acts, like putting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms. But religious as the U.S. is, the Supreme Court would never allow crucifixes in public school classrooms. Well, maybe the new court would . . . .
You can download the press release (in English, Italian, or German) and get further details, at the Court’s website.
Aren’t you Europeans supposed to be savvier than Amerians about this?
Here are the justices, all but Malinverni (Switzerland) and Kalaydjieva (Bulgaria) who voted to affirm:
Jean-Paul Costa (France), President,
Christos Rozakis (Greece),
Nicolas Bratza (the United Kingdom),
Peer Lorenzen (Denmark),
Josep Casadevall (Andorra),
Giovanni Bonello (Malta),
Nina Vajić (Croatia),
Rait Maruste (Estonia),
Anatoly Kovler (Russia),
Sverre Erik Jebens (Norway),
Päivi Hirvelä (Finland),
Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland),
George Nicolaou (Cyprus),
Ann Power (Ireland),
Zdravka Kalaydjieva (Bulgaria),
Mihai Poalelungi (Moldova),
Guido Raimondi (Italy)