Orthodox Worried Over ‘No Crucifixes’ Ruling

Update (Nov. 17): Italian Mayors Order Crucifixes Put in Classrooms in Revolt against European Court Ruling. Polish president and Greek Orthodox Church also hit out at decision against crucifixes in classrooms (Source: LifeSiteNews.com)
From the Zenit news service:

ATHENS, Greece, NOV. 16, 2009 — The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church is ready to convoke an extraordinary synod to strategize how to combat a European Court of Human Rights decision that ruled crucifixes in schools are a violation of rights.

“Majorities also have rights,” Ieronymos II said in a statement that L’Osservatore Romano reported today.

His statement responds to the Nov. 3 ruling from the rights court, which decided in favor of a mother who protested the crucifix in her children’s school. The court found that the presence of crucifixes in schools “restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

The court did not order crucifixes to be removed, however, and the Italian government is planning an appeal. The government has defended display of the crucifix based on the fact that it is more than a religious symbol and also points to Italy’s social and cultural history.

Ieronymos II said he is prepared to convoke an extraordinary synod next week, to work on a plan of action in the fear that this ruling might constitute a precedent also for Greece. And he appealed to Catholics to counteract this “threat to Christian symbols,” against those judges “who ignore the role of Christianity in the formation of Europe’s identity.”

A rights group in Greece is already seeking to remove religious symbols from Greek courts and schools and to have reference to religion taken out of the oath taken by witnesses in court.

Another coalition pointed to the ruling in Strasbourg, saying that if it applies in Italy, it should apply in all European countries.

Orthodox Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki said that he hopes the government will appeal any ruling of a Greek or European court that obliges the removal of religious symbols from the country’s schools, which in the case of Greece, is generally an icon of the face of Christ.

And Bishop Nikolaos of Phthiotis warned that “soon young people will no longer have a symbol that protects them” and that “the idols of soccer and pop are poor substitutes.”


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Bravo to the Church of Greece! As to the issue at hand, besides the obvious abomination that it is, this should give all Americans pause about treaties such as the upcoming Copenhagen treaty. Like the one that governs the EU, nations lose their sovereignty when they do the “feel-good” thing and sign the damn things. I wonder if the brainiacs over at 79th St/Phanar have figured that out? Aren’t there any Greek-American lawyers in the Archons or any of the various diocesan boards?

  2. This should be a wake up call that we have reverted back to the time of the first three centuries. Blessed are we when men shall revile us, persecute us and speak all manner of evil against us for His namesake. It is time that petty squabbles between us and amongst our bishops stops. It is time for our hierarchs to become leaders of men and not lords of fiefdoms. It is time that we start to recognize that we are once again catacombe church within our own countries. It is time again for martyrdom, if necessary, rather than complacency. It is a time for us to openly shame our Orthodox politicians who put their left wing politics above the Church’s moral teachings by quit giving them money just because of their ethnicity and quit communing them because of their actions. It is a time to form political alliances with all those who profess Christ even if not in our way for we will have nothing to squabble about with them if our collective enemies get their way. It is also the time to reject any of our leaders too timid or too unwilling to lead. No one has the right to be called and honored as a bishop, a clergyman or even a member of the royal priesthood who does not speak out against these continued outrages. God save us all from our complacency, timidity and stupidity developed over seventeen centuries. We are being given a second chance to get it right. I fear it will also be our last chance.

  3. E-Katherimini is reporting that icons may have to go in Greece. The Church is involved and against it but the fact that the government is pushing this does raise eyebrows. Greeks got the change they voted for and the cultural suicide continues.


    Religious icons may have to go

    Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis admitted yesterday that Greece will have no choice but to remove religious icons from school classrooms and other public buildings if the European Court of Human Rights stands by a ruling it made earlier this month.

    “If the European Court of Human Rights sticks to its original decision that religious symbols should be removed from all public buildings, then I think our country will have to adapt to the new situation arising from this decision,” said Kastanidis in response to a question from right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Asterios Rondoulis.

    However, Kastanidis added that any change to the status quo, which sees icons of the Virgin Mary hung in classrooms, courtrooms and public service offices, would take place “only after agreement has been reached with the Church of Greece.”

    However, it seems that the Church is highly unlikely to concede to the removal of icons or crucifixes from buildings.

    The Church of Greece reacted angrily to such suggestions when it emerged earlier this month that the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that the presence of crucifixes in classrooms was a breach of human rights after hearing a case brought by a mother from Italy.

    “It is not only minorities that have rights, the majority has them as well,” said the head of the Greek Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, adding that the matter would be discussed by the Holy Synod if necessary.

    “Youngsters will soon not have any symbols to inspire and protect them,” said Bishop Nikolaos of Fthiotida. Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki said he hopes Greek officials will appeal any decision by the court in Strasbourg.

    The European court found that the right of parents to educate their children according to their own beliefs, and children’s right to freedom of religion, were breached by the presence of a crucifix in classrooms.

  4. That the Socialist government is pushing this is not a surprise. They have
    been trying to attack the Church for many years including in their previous
    tenure in power between 1996 and 2004.

    In 2004, then Archbishop Christodoulos called out anywhere between 100,000
    and 800,000 people (depending which statistics are to be believed) in
    Athens and Thessaloniki to protest the removal of religion from identity
    cards and public life.

    The Church was able to get 3 million people in Greece to sign a petition
    protesting the removal of religion from public life in the period after.

    The Church of Greece already scored a minor victory over the previous
    government in 2008 when it pressured the government to restore history
    to school books which were altered in the interest of political correctness
    and the appeasement of Turkey.

    The Greek Education ministry began removing references to the massacre of
    Greek Orthodox Christians in Smyrna in 1922 and the horrors of the
    Ottoman era Janissary system which kidnapped and converted Christian boys
    to Islam under the Turkish era. The Church was able with conservative
    elements in Greece able to overturn this foolishness.

    The problems the Church of Greece presently faces,

    1)Removal of Icons from public buildings and schools

    2)The desire of far left wing elements to legalize same sex marriage.
    The Church has made very clear in many of its own newspapers that it will
    fight any such moves.

    3)European feminists in the EU have stated that they consider Mount Athos
    to be practicing discrimination against women since females may not enter
    the Holy Mountain. The arguments by European leftists are that since Mount
    Athos is European territory, there must be access for all.

    The European influence on Greece has been detrimental on the whole, but
    there is still a great deal of traditionalist and conservative thought in

    The Church has a good chance of forcing the Socialists to back off on the
    removal of Icons. Everything will depend if they can mobilize the faithful
    of Greece. The Church of Greece I think has been waiting to defend itself
    from the onslought of the secularists for the last few years.

    The late Archbishop Christodoulos (1998-2008) was loved by most of the
    people in Greece. His funeral service attracted at least a few hundred
    thousand mourners in Athens.

    The Church of Greece still has influence in society, that in turn is why
    it is despised by the Socialist left which embraces every aspect of
    foolishness that the European Union advocates.


  5. cynthia curran :

    Well, the government is too much in Greece. Now, in the United States people would not want posters of Billy Grahram or so forth in public schools since the United States is about 30 percent and 2 percent non-christian religons but Greece is very different. Greece is 98 percent Orthodox and most people prefer icons in public schools. As for Mt Athos this is stupid as well. There are also women religious communties that don’t allowed men, so men should be allowed to have religious communties that allow only women. The EU is too involved with the politics of the countries it represent. Being more conservative in nature, I prefer that the countries of Europe should have a right to determined their own views on these subjects mention above

  6. cynthia curran :

    I mean,the United States is about 30 percent Roman Catholic

  7. George Michalopulos :

    Theodoros, I was in Greece in the summer of 2000 when +Christodoulos called out the people. I can guarantee you that in Athens alone, there were at least 250,000 there. I was caught in the middle of it, just walking down the street going from, not entirely aware of what was going on. Lemme tell you, it was a first class afair, what with jumbotrons, flags, etc.

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