Italian Education minister considering removing crucifixes from schools

epa01920787 (FILE) An undated file photograph showing a student near a crucifix in a classroom in a school in Pisa, Italy. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the practice of hanging crucifixes in classrooms violated parents? right to educate their children according to their own wishes it was reported on 03 November 2009. EPA/FR4ANCO SILVI

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Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti this week considered removing crucifixes from schoolrooms to underline their secular nature, sparking a huge row.

“I believe in a secular school, I think that schools must be secular and allow all cultures to express themselves and not show one symbol in particular,” he said.

The idea met stiff opposition from the Catholic Church and from hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini who dubbed Fioramonti “a minister more worthy of anarchist squats than university research”.

Fioramonti declined to comment Tuesday saying the row was “sterile”.

Msgr Michele Pennisi, archbishop of Monreale near Palermo, said the case was a gift for Salvini who “will use it against the government”.

The secretary general of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), Msgr Stefano Russo, said Fioramonti’s stance had been “rash”.

“We need these symbols at the preset time. The crucifix does no harm and does not offend anyone. It absolutely a positive sign”, Russo said. The issue of crucifixes in schools, courtrooms and other public spaces has pitted secular and Islamic activists against Catholic traditionalists over recent years.

The most recent ruling from the European Court said that “displaying the crucifix does not injure religious freedom”.

The Italian association of atheists welcomed Fioramonti’s statement saying “this a good step forwards”.

The ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) said removing crosses from schoolrooms was “not on the agenda.



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