Leaving only empty Halloween pumpkins behind
As the reaction to the European Court of Human Rights ruling about crucifixes in state school classrooms yesterday continues to roll out, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State said the ruling was leaving Europe behind with nothing more left of its Christian patrimony than empty Halloween pumpkins.
He said: “I say unfortunately Europe of the third millenium allows us only to keep the pumpkins left over from recent revelry before November 1st while taking more valuable symbols away from us.”
The Halloween custom of lighting Jack-o-Lanterns has spread across Europe as has the custom of wearing costumes, while the following two days, All Saints and All Souls are fading in public consciousness.
Italians, except for those on the far left, have rallied to defend the patrimony and the tradition which keeps crucifixes in classrooms. From the Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli, who writes that Europe has voted for Barabas by denying its Christian roots, to the leader of the main left-wing opposition party Pierluigi Bersani, Italians have defied the ruling. They say that it represents the tradition, culture and history of Italy.
In the Guardian’s Comment is Free section Manuela Mesco writes about the ruling from a secularist perspective. She makes the point that this is an instance where the heritage and culture of a country may conflict with united Europe’s general guidelines:
: “Italy defends its culture and traditions, which includes Christianity and, in the specific case, a symbol which is not considered to jeopardise the separation between church and state. Europe, on the contrary, looks at general guidelines to be imposed across the board. This is struggle with many ramifications.”
Although the court spokesperson said that the ruling–which decided that a crucifix on a classroom wall contravened human rights laws–only applied to Italy, as it was one case, one person one ruling, the ruling could have serious ramifications for other European countries.
In Austria, the debate is already on the table. Should there be crucifixes in state classrooms?
Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn has said that the ruling is unacceptable.
He said yesterday: “A crucifix in the classroom does not contraven religious liberty, not even the free witness of different religious persuasions.
“The European court of human rights has done Europe a disservice,” Cardinal Schoenborn said. “This contitent has a future only when it does not belie its roots. The cross embodies these roots.”