Under the title of "Credible witnesses in a society in crisis," the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published an interview with the president of the Italian Bishops Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, in which he tackled a number of current issues in the Church. In particular, he stressed the importance for European identity of being able to display the cross in public places.
Asked what his expectations were for how the Strasbourg Court might rule on the Italian government's appeal of the November ruling against crucifixes in classrooms, he said matter-of-factly, "To tell you the truth, I would expect just a little bit of good sense."
The cardinal said that, for him, it's strange that while Europe is experiencing an increase in inter-cultural exchange, the attempt is being made "to censor one of the fundamental roots of the history of our continent."
Cardinal Bagnasco argued that "Wanting to eliminate the traditional cultural or religious characteristics of a country, especially those linked to the life environment - whether it be in schools or other sites where youth gather - means renouncing that very wealth of cultures that otherwise are protected and defended."
Asked where this "hostility" to Christianity originates, the president of Italian bishops said that the root is a misunderstood secularism, manifested by "a serious amputation of the sense of the State, which obviously does not have competency in the religious field nor pursues religious ends, but must recognize, respect and, better still, promote the religious dimension.
"Behind religious freedom, in fact, is hidden the most decisive experience of human liberty, without which not only the faith, but even moreso democracy, is at risk."