Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Crucifixion of Europe: Can the Strasbourg Court Decide the Fate of Religious Symbols?

It’s a pleasant surprise, it turned out that some things are still able to unite Europe. Take, for instance, the crucifix. It’s been a part of European civilisation and of the culture and traditions of the majority of citizens of the Old Continent… and not only in Europe. In the words of Gandhi, the crucifix was “a universal symbol of peace and brotherhood amongst all people of goodwill”. The crucifix united Europeans especially on the eve of 30 June, when the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will consider the appeal of Italy [against its earlier decision]. Everybody was awaiting the decision, with the hope that the court would recognise the right of each country to allow the display of the crucifix in public places. On the other hand, it could choose to deny such a right. Italians are not enthused by Strasbourg’s “one size fits all” approach, and some of them are not being very polite about it.

Stefano Santoni, an MEP from the Forza Nuova party, described the situation in an interview with VOR, “Today, in Italy, it’s like somebody lifted their finger and said ‘no’ to the crucifix in the classroom and public institutions… everywhere, in fact. That’s wrong. For us, the crucifix is a fundamental part of our customs. The crucifix has been amongst us for 2,000 years, it’s a symbol, and it’s our creed. It turns out that it’s sufficient for one idiot to object to the crucifix… so the Strasbourg Court has to decide it for us? That’s completely wrong”. Both Italian President Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi believe that the decision of the Strasbourg Court is in error, pointing up that the November 2009 verdict is unacceptable, “not only for the majority of Italians, but for many other countries in Europe”. This is a unique precedent in the history of the Strasbourg court, and the member-states of the Council of Europe are trying to define for the court the limits of its jurisdiction. It should not invent new “human rights” against the will of its member-states.

Ten member-states of the Council of Europe, including Russia, sent an official request to the Court asking for recognition as “interested third parties” (amicus curiae) to the appeal, which allows them to send official requests to the court in support of Italy. Other states, such as Austria and Poland, clearly objected to the court decision, too. This is unusual, for the member-states of the Council generally act only when the decision concerns their citizens. Also seeking status as third-party advocates are 12 non-governmental organizations from different countries. None of these third parties, whether a state or NGO, expressed support for the earlier decision.

“A world without the crucifix would be less humane” (Il mondo senza il crocifisso sarebbe meno umano), Pope Benedict XVI said, in strong opposition to the court decision. The Local Orthodox Churches in Russia, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and Greece, the 22 episcopal conferences of Europe sent notes, statements, and appeals to Strasbourg. The Romanian hierarchy took a slightly different approach to the Strasbourg verdict. “In Eastern Europe, including Romania, the crucifix was a symbol of hope in the fight for freedom during the communist period, when religious symbols were banned. When we could openly show our symbols, it showed the victory of democracy and freedom over totalitarianism”. A common law and mutual respect for different identities are values necessary for the European Community, which is becoming increasingly multicultural. Therefore, one hopes that the Strasbourg court will make a decision based on common sense and the will of the majority of Europeans. Any other solution would be both literally and figuratively a “crucifixion by the court”.

29 June 2010

Yelena Kovalenko

Voice of Russia World Service

As quoted in Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=radio&div=1363

Editor’s Note:

This story is getting HUGE play in Russia… it is getting NO play in the US and British corporate media. Dare I call it deliberate? On one side are those who speak up for religious symbols… they are Orthodox and Catholic faithful. On the other are not only secularists, but also Proddies are amongst our foes. They are QUIET. Why? I’ll tell you why… Proddies are all too often Christian Atheists… they hold none of the classical beliefs of the Church.

Let’s make a slight excursus. They proselytise aggressively amongst us, which is quite bad enough. Often, what is worse, some try to join us and contaminate Orthodoxy with Protestant notions. Some things such as shunning have entered our Church life and I warn Russian friends of it if they are coming to this country. I have to tell them that gossip runs amuck in our parishes and that priests either cannot or will not stop it. I warn them that “member in good standing” does not refer to one who strives to live a good life, but it means that you have given a stated amount of money to the parish.

We have wandered far away from the Faith due to many factors… it’s why we aren’t joining our European brethren in opposing this godless measure. God willing… we’ll come back… but it will take a long time and it won’t happen overnight. Shall we do it? I don’t know…

BMD

Orthodox and Catholic Bishops Team Up To Back Crucifix Bid

Oh, oh… the court is messing with Serbs… that’s NOT a wise move… they DO eat their spinach, and they know what to do afterwards!

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The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the Catholic Church in Serbia backed efforts in Italy to reinstate the crucifix in schools. The dignitaries of the two churches said they “defend the right to display religious symbols in the states with a majority of Christian citizens and at the same time they honour freedom of religion for minorities”. The Catholic Church in Serbia stated that all its members, believers, priests, and its bishop fully support Italy’s fight for public display of Christian holy symbols in state schools and other educational institutions in future. Through a declaration adopted on 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights decided that Christian symbols must not be displayed in schools and other educational institutions. “We appreciate and honour the opinion of every citizen in multiethnic and multicultural Europe, but we still believe that Christians have right to their own opinion and to a public expression of their religious affiliation”, the Catholic Church in Serbia noted in a statement. The Catholic Church in Serbia expressed gratitude to, as they put it, the brotherly SPC, for it has also backed the initiative. The SPC Holy Synod of Bishops supported the initiative of the Catholic Church in Serbia at a session held on 24 June. “We hope that this important and noble initiative will be affirmed before the European Court of Human Rights”, the SPC stated.

30 June 2010

B92

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/society-article.php?yyyy=2010&mm=06&dd=30&nav_id=68148

The Faith in the Dock: The Strasbourg Court to Hear the Case Lautsi vs. Italy

Today, the European Court of Human Rights is considering an appeal of the Italian government in the case of Louts vs. Italy. However, a decision on the matter and relevant explanations for it, as the press service of the court explained, will be published no earlier than this autumn.

If you remember it, in November 2009, the Strasbourg Court granted the petition of an Italian citizen of Finnish origin, Soile Lautsi, who insisted that the presence of Christian crucifixes in the classroom violated her parental right to a secular education for her children. In an unprecedented decision, the court agreed with her, and indicated that the crucifix could be “interpreted by students as a religious symbol, creating an environment imprinted with a specific religious tradition”, as well as “an emotional impact on those who practice another religion or none at all”. On this basis, then, they concluded that [the presence of the crucifix] violated several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court ordered Italy to remove crucifixes from public schools and to pay 5,000 Euros (191,586 Roubles 6,117 USD 4,092 UK Pounds) to Soile Lautsi as compensation [for damages suffered]. This verdict provoked a storm of indignation in Italy and abroad. The Italian government immediately appealed the decision of the Strasbourg Court, insisting that Christianity and its symbols undergird all of Italian culture and civilisation, and have done so for many centuries. The appeal underscored, “Removing the crucifix from the walls of schools, given the historical and cultural context of the country, is a blow to the religious feelings of believing citizens”. Indeed, the appeal insisted that, when making a decision on such a sensitive topic, the Strasbourg court should choose to act in such a way that would aim to “maintain social balance in the community, social justice, and public order”.

Undoubtedly, this case concerning the public display of the crucifix is of fundamental importance, which affects the interests of the overwhelming majority of European countries. Not without reason, many other states on the continent flocked to support Italy. This is the first such occurrence in the history of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. However, ten of these states, Russia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, San Marino, Monaco, and Romania, presented themselves before the Grand Chamber of the court as interested “third parties”. It’s true that the two last-named countries did not have time to make a formal application, so, technically, there are eight “interested third parties” before the court. Many public and religious associations, including the European Centre for Law and Justice, expressed their solidarity with the Italians. As Gregor Pyupenk, the president of the centre, told our RG correspondent, they sent the court a written statement, with the support of 79 deputies of the European Parliament. According to Mr Pyupenk, crucifixes in Italian schools in no way infringe upon anyone’s freedom of choice, most certainly not that of Ms Lautsi or her children, because their presence in the classroom, in principle, does not influence their attitude, moreover, they do not compel them to do other than what they will.

In His Own Words…

Igumen Filaret Bulekov, Representative of the MP to the Council of Europe:

It seems to me that this case is an example of the crisis facing the European Court of Human Rights. This court and the Council of Europe emerged after the Second World War as institutions designed to facilitate peace and harmony on the continent, to help to resolve conflicts, and to defuse tensions between European states and peoples. Certainly, the intent was not to create new problems in the social structure. However, a progressive deformation and bureaucratisation, as well as a loss of moral guidelines, have led to the formation of something quite opposite its founding intentions. In Italy, there was no public pressure to remove the crucifix from the classrooms, and, as it has emerged, this case has prompted angry protests. Not only Catholics are upset at this decision. Even unbelievers reacted negatively to this verdict of the Strasbourg court, seeing in it a threat to their culture. In the end, it turned out that those who were indifferent to a specific country’s heritage, and who did not share the values of that culture can use the court [to achieve their individualistic ends]. It turns out that an alien, a Finn by birth, whose motivations are still murky, was capable of gaming the system of the European institutions to oppose the will of the overwhelming majority of people in the Apennines. The precedent set by the case of Lautsi vs. Italy is extremely dangerous. Today, you demand the removal of the crucifix from the schools; tomorrow, you will demand the removal of the cross from churches and cathedrals.

30 June 2010

Vyacheslav Prokofiev

Российская Газета (The Russian Newspaper)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=print&div=11545

30 June 2010. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. America the Ugly…

Filed under: military,NATO,politics,USA,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

Я демократизатор… и это прикольно, братуха!

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I’m a democratiser… and this is hilarious, bro!

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This, and the following two pictures are from a Russian satirical site… there’s a comment on Russian domestic politics, this one’s on international affairs, and the last is a “furry friends funny”. Free speech is alive and well in Russia… as for the USA…

BMD

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