.- The head of the Greek Orthodox Church has voiced his opposition to a court ban on crucifixes in classrooms in Italy and will hold an emergency synod to lay out a plan of action to combat the ban.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece said that the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) had ignored the role of Christianity in Europe’s history. According to the BBC, he added that majorities, not only minorities, have rights.
The Orthodox Church fears the EHCR ruling could trigger similar rulings about the public display of Christian symbols in other countries.
The self-described human rights group Helsinki Monitor is seeking the removal of icons of Jesus from Greek courts and an end to Christian oaths in the witness box. It also wants Christian symbols to be removed from Greek schools.
The EHCR had ruled that the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates the European Convention on Human Rights’ protections of the right to education and the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
According to the court’s ruling, the crucifix’s presence in the classroom could be interpreted by pupils as a religious sign and they would feel “that they were being educated in a school environment bearing the stamp of a given religion.”
The Strasbourg-based court argued that this situation could encourage religious pupils but could be disturbing for pupils of other religions or were atheists, “particularly if they belonged to religious minorities.
The ruling caused outcry across Italy and the Italian government plans to appeal it.