2009-11-05 16:54:00

ECHR's banning of crucifix in Italian schools could destabilize Europe - Russian Church

Strasburg, November 5, Interfax - The recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to outlaw the display of crucifix at Italian public schools could lead to destabilization across Europe, said Hegumen Filaret (Bulekov), Moscow Patriarchate's representative to the Council of Europe.

"Europe could be faced with public destabilization, with rising protest sentiments over the issues which have not caused public tensions before. In this particular case, it is precisely "the human rights" and their interpretation by an authoritative European judicial body that could act as a new factor of instability," Father Filaret told Interfax-Religion on Thursday.

On November 3 the ECHR banned the display of crucifix at Italian public schools in response to the lawsuit filed by this country's citizen, Soile Lautsi. The woman complained that the Christian symbols displayed in the classrooms of the schools attended by her children prevented them from getting a secular education. The Italian government announced its plans to protest this court ruling.

The Strasbourg court's ruling "has dealt a very serious blow to the concept of human rights and liberties," and in general, this decision shows "a deep crisis of the rights protection approach," which also reflects the processes that have occurred in Europe in past few years, for instance, the exclusion of the mentioning of Christianity from the preamble of the European Constitution, Father Filaret said.

"The set precedent is extremely dangerous. Today they are demanding to remove crucifixes from schools in catholic countries. Tomorrow they will demand the removal of "Christian signs" from the historical national symbols of the European countries. One can imagine that time will come when on the same grounds, and using the same argument, they will demand to remove crosses from thousands of European cathedrals," the Moscow Patriarchate's representative said.