'Secularism does not mean banning religious symbols,' asserts Italian cardinal

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco

.- Amidst the expectation of a new ruling from the EU Court in Strasbourg, the Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, remarked that “secularism does not mean banning religious symbols,” such as the crucifix, “from public places."

In a message sent this week to Claudio Zucchelli, the president of “Christian Humanism,” which is holding a conference on the issue of “Values and Rights: The case of the crucifix,” Cardinal Bagnasco said: “To recognize the legitimacy and the value of displaying the crucifix is to guarantee respect for religious freedom and for the traditions of the people in harmony with the principle of subsidiarity which governs the relationships between states and the European institutions.”

In view of the upcoming decision by the EU Court, which had previously issued a ban on the public display of the crucifix, Cardinal Bagnasco said it was an opportune time to “bring to the attention of the public the importance of displaying the crucifix in schools.”

The cardinal said that the displaying of the crucifix is not a tool to impose the faith but rather it expresses “a tradition that we all know and recognize for its great spiritual value.” He added that it is also a sign of support for “those in need and those who suffer regardless of their faith, ethnicity or nationality.”

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI in his message, the cardinal said, “Healthy secularism implies that the State not consider religion as a simple individual sentiment that should be confined to merely the private sphere instead of considering it as part of the public community.”

The Holy Father has underscored that secularism gone awry degenerates into hostility toward all forms of political or cultural relevance of religion and the presence of any religious symbol in public institutions, the cardinal stated.


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