Church of Greece rallies opposition to crucifix ban

From Malcolm Brabant reporting for the BBC in Athens:
The Greek Orthodox Church is urging Christians across Europe to unite in an appeal against a ban on crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled last week that the presence of crucifixes violated a child’s right to freedom of religion.

Greece’s Orthodox Church fears the Italian case will set a precedent.

It has called an emergency Holy Synod meeting for next week to devise an action plan.

Although the Greek Orthodox Church has been at odds with Roman Catholicism for 1,000 years, the judicial threat to Christian symbols has acted as a unifying force.

The European Court of Human Rights found that the compulsory display of crucifixes violated parents’ rights to educate their children as they saw fit and restricted the right of children to believe or not to believe.

‘Worthy symbols’

The head of the Greek Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, shares Catholic complaints that the court is ignoring the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity.

It is not only minorities that have rights but majorities as well, said the archbishop.

One of his subordinates, Bishop Nicholas from central Greece, lamented that at this rate youngsters will not have any worthy symbols at all to inspire and protect them.

Football and pop idols are very poor substitutes, he said.

The Greek Church has ostensibly intervened in this case in response to an appeal by a Greek mother whose son is studying in Italy.

But without doubt it is concerned that its omnipotence in Greece is under threat.

A human rights group called Helsinki Monitor is seeking to use the Italian case as a precedent.

It has demanded that Greek courts remove icons of Jesus Christ from above the judge’s bench and that the gospel no longer be used for swearing oaths in the witness box.

Helsinki Monitor is urging trade unions to challenge the presence of religious symbols in Greek schools.

The socialist government here is also considering imposing new taxes on the Church’s vast fortune, but at the same time is urging it to do more to help immigrants and poor Greeks.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Bravo to the Church of Greece! All Christians need to stand with the Christians of Italy to fight this travesty. What a difference the Church of Greece is than the Phanar. It is to hierarchs such as Hieronymous and the late Christodoulos that the Greek-Americans should look for guidance, not dilettantes like Lambrianides.

  2. Three Cheers for the Greek Church! Its nice to see a Church stand up for what is right.

    The Church in Greece’s actions also serve as a reminder of the moral and spiritual ambiguity emanating from the Phanar/79th Street these days. Is the EP even going to comment on this issue?

  3. The cases that have been affecting Italy and Greece (probably more
    countries)indicate the troubling trend with which undemocratic measures
    are disguising themselves with the “human rights” or “minority rights”

    The case in Italy shows that Christianity is coming under persecution,
    perhaps not as dramatically as ocurred in Russia with mass killings
    but through legislation and prejudice. The move in Italy emanated from
    one single person who was offended by the crucifix. To think that one
    person (who was not being compelled to pray or participate in any
    service) should have the ability to impact millions of people in Italy
    and all over Europe is an affront to democracy and demonstrates what
    post-Christian Europe has been reduced to.

    Europe is presently playing host to millions of Muslims, most of whom
    are undoubtedly honest people looking for a better life. At the same
    time, Islamic militants are among them and the fact is Islam will be
    the primary beneficiary of Europe’s descent into secularism.

    The spiritual future of Europe may very well be Orthodoxy or Islam. I
    hope the Orthodox Churches see the opportunity at hand to spread in


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