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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

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Taking down classroom crosses

MILAN - Crosses may be seeing their final days on the walls of Italian public schools.
The European Court of Human Rights said the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and educational freedoms.

But the Italian government is not giving up easily and plans to appeal the ruling against them.

Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini announced the appeal calling crosses in the classroom “a symbol of Italian tradition” that did not have a specific affiliation solely to the Catholic church and is not a symbol that should make anyone feel excluded or unwelcome.

Almost directly after the ruling was made, the Vatican also protested in Rome, denouncing the decision made by the court.

A Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, agreed in the importance of the symbol, saying “It seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, which was and remains essential.”

The case was first brought to the European Court of Human Rights in July 2006 by a mother of two, Soile Lautsi, claiming her town in northern Italy refused to remove a cross off the wall eight years ago. She argued that the crucifix violated the secular principles that a public school should uphold.

As a country dominated by Roman Catholics, to say the least, her efforts have not been welcomed with open arms.  

According to the ANSA Italian news agency, after hearing the ruling, Lautsi’s husband Massimo Albertin said “We believe the ruling is a positive signal from Europe to Italy, which seems to increasingly lose its secularism.”

This decision could cause a look-over of the use of all religious symbols within European schools.

The court ordered Italy to pay a fine of just more than $7,000 to Lautsi.

If the appeal is successful, Tuesday’s ruling will be looked at again, and if not, the law will become completely effective in three months.

The Census of 2009 Annuario Pontificio stated between 90 and 95 percent of Italians are Roman Catholic, which explains the anger that erupted after this ruling. The separation between church and state has been an interesting battle in Italy because of the importance of the Vatican in Rome and the large presence of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the country.

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