The executive committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain has approved a statement on the public displaying of religious symbols in Europe, saying crucifixes should remain in schools in order to strengthen the identity and values of students.
The statement comes as the EU Court in Strasbourg is expected to issue a ruling on June 30 on the displaying of religious symbols in public schools.
“Societies of Christian tradition must not oppose the public displaying of their religious symbols, in particular, those which educate children,” the bishops stated, warning that otherwise “these societies will find it difficult to convey their own identity and values to future generations.”
“They would become contradictory societies that reject the spiritual and cultural heritage” and “cut off their path to the future,” the bishops added.
“To pit oneself against the symbols of the values that shape the history and culture of a nation is to leave it defenseless against other cultural sources that are not always beneficial,” the bishops said. This also “caps the basic sources of ethics and law which have led to the recognition, promotion and protection of the dignity of the person.”
The presence of Christian symbols in public life, and specifically the crucifix, “reflects the sentiment of Christians of all confessions and is not intended to exclude anyone.”
“On the contrary, it is the expression of a tradition which everyone recognizes for its great value and enormous role as a catalyst in the dialogue between people of good will and as a support for those who suffer,” the bishops said.
They also underscored that religious freedom enjoys increasing recognition in Europe, and that some countries explicitly permit the displaying of other religious symbols. “Only in a Europe in which both the religious freedom of each person and the traditions of each people and nation are respected will appropriate relations between religions and peoples develop in justice and in freedom,” they stressed.