Bishop Antonio Marino of Mar de Plata, Argentina recently criticized a proposed law in Buenos Aires that would remove religious symbols from public spaces.
He said such a measure would mean ignoring the historical and cultural identity of the country.
In a column published in the Argentinean daily La Capital, Bishop Marino criticized the sponsor of the bill, Maria Jose Lubertino, for invoking a supposed “right to not believe.”
“To take seriously the proposal to eradicate religious symbols from civil institutions and public spaces would have far-reaching consequences,” the bishop said. “The consistent and systematic application of this principle which a minority is pushing for would seem to entail that in organizing a society one can ignore its past and its historical and cultural identity. This would be the equivalent of attempting to re-build our country upon foundations that differ from the ones already in place.”
“We would have to change the preamble of the National Constitution in which we invoke God as ‘the source of all reason and justice.’ We would also have eliminate article 2, which establishes the Catholic Church as an institution of public right,” he added.
“According to the same logic that sees in religious symbols a threat to democracy and freedom, we should also change the names of innumerable cities, provinces and streets of a Christian and Catholic origin,” Bishop Marino continued.
He also noted that the Spanish language is filled with words and expressions that come from Christian tradition and the Bible and that therefore to adopt such a law would lead to “the denial of the history and culture of the West itself.”
Christianity was the spiritual force that led to a proper distinction between spiritual power and temporal power, he said, and the secularity of the State properly understood has its origins in the Christian faith. Secularism is something different, he noted, as it seeks to marginalize God from public life and relegate Him to the realm of conscience and to the sacristy.
Bishop Marino concluded by questioning the so-called “right to not believe.” “Is anyone persecuted for not believing? Should we not be speaking instead about the right to believe? Or in order to defend the right of minorities we should attack the convictions of the majority?
“Moreover, should our country renounce its past and its historical and cultural identity?” the bishop asked.