Battle Looms over Place of Religion in European Schools

December 23, 2009

Editor’s note: Following recent moves by the European Court ordering Italy to take down crucifixes from its classrooms, the Russian Orthodox church responded regarding this new spiritual battle.

The future of the European continent is impossible without taking into account its Christian heritage, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said Monday.

“People who attached great significance to European cultural and religious identity as an important element of pan-European wellbeing were among the EU originators,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in a message to the European Union’s first President Herman Van Rompuy, who will take office from January.

“I hope… you will be able to pay attention to European international structures’ dialogue with Europe’s traditional religious communities, among which is the Russian Orthodox Church,” the message said.

“I believe it will lead us to the understanding that without being guided by Christian heritage, the future of the European continent is unthinkable,” it said.

In November the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes in Italian schools insult the feelings of children belonging to other faiths and atheists, and said the authorities should remove the Christian symbols. Italy’s government said it will appeal the ruling.


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