Tue Nov 3, 2:43 pm ET
European court: No crucifixes in Italian schools
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer
ROME – The Vatican on Tuesday denounced a ruling by the European court of human rights that said the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and education freedoms.
In a decision that could force a review of the use of religious symbols in government-run schools across Europe, the court ordered Italy to pay a euro5,000 ($7,390) fine to a mother in northern Italy who fought for eight years to have crucifixes removed from her children’s public school classrooms. The Italian government said it would appeal.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the crucifix was a fundamental sign of the importance of religious values in Italian history and culture and was a symbol of unity and welcoming for all of humanity — not one of exclusion.
He said a European court had no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter and said “it seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, which was and remains essential.”