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Crucifix row: ‘Christian majority has rights, too’

19 November 2009

by Ed Beavan

THE HEAD of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, has criticised the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that cruci­fixes in schools in Italy are a breach of human rights.

The Strasbourg court said that displaying crucifixes in classrooms violated a child’s right to freedom of religion (News, 6 November). A case was brought by a Finnish mother with two children, living in northern Italy.

Archbishop Ieronymos said: “It is not only minorities that have rights; the majority has them as well.” The matter would be raised at the Church’s next synod if necessary.

Bishop Nikolaos of Fthiotida also criticised the decision, saying that it meant that “youngsters will soon not have any symbols to inspire and protect them.”

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, ex­pressed “concern, delusion, and fear about Christian roots in Europe”, after the court’s decision. But the We Are Church movement, which seeks to reform the Roman Catholic Church, welcomed the ruling.

The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said that his govern­ment will appeal against the decision. A poll in an Italian news­paper, Corriere della Sera, found that 84 per cent of those polled opposed the ruling.

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