Czech Bishops Denounce Crucifix Ruling

Decry Religious “Insensitivity” of European Court

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic, JAN. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Czech bishops are sending an appeal to Europe to remember its principles, especially with regard to the recent ruling that crucifixes in schools are a violation of rights.

The Czech bishops’ conference issued a statement Tuesday, the first day of its plenary conference in Prague, in which it affirmed, “We hope that member states of the Council of Europe will not be subject to denying the principles upon which the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights were created.”

The statement was written in response to the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which decided in favor of a mother who protested the crucifix in her children’s Italian school.

The court did not order crucifixes to be removed, however, and the Italian government is appealing the decision.

The European Parliament was due to vote on this appeal Dec. 17, but instead postponed the decision for a later meeting.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute reported that a “little-publicized” decision by the Italian constitutional court last month is calling into question the legitimacy of the European court’s ruling.

The Italian court decided that “where rulings by the European Court of Human Rights conflict with provisions of the Italian Constitution, such rulings lack legitimacy,” the institute affirmed.

It stated further that this decision could “embolden” other countries such as Ireland, which is currently being challenged by the human rights court due to its stance on protecting human life in the womb.

Safeguard

The statement by the Czech bishops affirmed, “The European Court of Human Rights is a judicial authority created by a decision of European states, associated in the Council of Europe, to explain the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with a view to ensure carrying out the obligations that result from the Convention.”

Quoting the Council of Europe’s statute, it noted the organization’s objective should be to “achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.”

The conference noted, however, that “the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, following the tendency to remove the cross from public and social life, contradicts this basic aim of the Council of Europe and the European Convention.”

It explained that “Christianity, traditionally proclaiming timeless rights and freedoms of every man, is a constant part of the ideals and principles that create a common patrimony of European states.”

As well, the statement added, “the cross, as a basic Christian attribute, is at the same time a symbol of the common European heritage.”

The human rights court ruling “manifests an insensitive attitude towards religious feelings of European nations, to their traditions and international cooperation in the area of health care, humanitarian and social help within the Red Cross,” the conference asserted.

It continued: “The Czech bishops’ conference rejects these efforts to drive out traditional manifestations of the Christian culture from the social life and substitute them by atheistic attitudes.

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