The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the use of crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.
It said the practice violated the right of parents to educate their children as they saw fit, and ran counter to the child’s right to freedom of religion.
The case was brought by an Italian mother, Soile Lautsi, who wants to give her children a secular education.
The Strasbourg court found that: “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities… restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”
It also restricted the “right of children to believe or not to believe“, the seven judges ruling on the case said in a statement…
Mrs Lautsi complained to the European court that her children had to attend a public school in northern Italy that had crucifixes in every room. She was awarded €5,000 in damages.
Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the European court had no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter.
He told Italian TV: “The crucifix has always been a sign of God’s love, unity and hospitality to all humanity…
The law requiring crucifixes to be hung in schools dates back to the 1920s.
Although a revised accord between the Vatican and the Italian government ended Catholicism’s position as the state religion in 1984, the crucifix law has never been repealed.
Surely, no one expected leadership from Italian politicians or courts in completing the process of separation of church and state. That would be like separating money from greed.