Vatican slams judge’s order to remove crucifixes
A Spanish judge’s ruling to remove crucifixes from a state school has been criticised by the Vatican’s newspaper.25 November 2008
MADRID – The Vatican's newspaper hit out at an order Monday by a Spanish judge to remove crucifixes from the walls of classrooms of a state school, saying it smacked of "anti-religious hatred".
Judge Alejandro Valentin was complying with a 2005 request by a parent and a local secular association, which said Spain's constitution guarantees "freedom of religion" and ensures the "secular and neutral" character of the Spanish state.
The judge ordered the Macias Picavea school in the northern city of Valladolid to "remove religious symbols from classrooms and public spaces".
"The presence of these symbols in areas ... where minors are being educated can promote the idea that the state is closer" to Roman Catholicism than other faiths, he said in his unprecedented ruling.
In an opinion piece carried in the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano, Spanish journalist Juan Manuel de Prada said "the crucifix can only offend those who want the state to become a new God with absolute power over souls."
"For some time rights and freedoms have been used in Spain as a pretext ... for anti-religious hatred and christophobia," he said.
The same accusation of "Christ hating" was used by Bishop of Toledo Antonio Canizares Llovera, quoted by the Italian episcopal news agency.
A similar case arose in the southern town of Jaen in 2006, but the regional government there removed the crucifixes from the school before the court could take action, the daily ABC said Sunday.
Despite the provisions of the 1978 constitution, which ensures the separation of Church and State, Catholic symbols remain in many schools in Spain, 30 years after the end of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who had made Roman Catholicism the official state religion
[AFP / Expatica]