11 de novembro de 2009


© JVieira

What is a CRUCIFIX? It is not a symbol of the almighty power of the Catholic Church, but a representation of one innocent man’s agonising death at the hands of the state, after torture and a sham trial – in other words, a gross human-rights violation. Catholics believe that that innocent man is also the Son of God, but the depiction is realistic, not metaphysical. The decision of the European Court of Human Rights to order the removal of crucifixes from the walls of state schools in Italy is therefore one of the worst examples of human-rights legislation bringing the wrong result for the wrong reasons. The real damage is to the cause of human rights itself: the decision makes not only the law look an ass but also the court and the convention it is supposed to uphold. To Catholics, moreover, Christ’s suffering on the Cross is a sign of his human and divine solidarity with all who suffer cruelty and injustice, an example that has comforted and encouraged countless victims of torture and oppression down the centuries.
In Italy, the decision has provoked real anger, and is seen as an attack not only on Italian identity but also on the country’s culture and history. The complainant, a Finnish-born immigrant, started the proceedings because she said that she was offended by crucifixes on display in the school her children attended. Presumably she is offended every time she goes down the street, as it is impossible to walk far in any Italian town or city without encountering a church. Christianity is woven into the very fabric of Italian life. If anyone were to take the court’s decision at face value, all that would have to be somehow unravelled. And what about the manifestation of religion elsewhere in Europe – the establishment of the Church of England, indeed? Is that now safe from challenge by the interfering judges of Strasbourg?
The European Convention on Human Rights, which is now part of United Kingdom law under the Human Rights Act, has brought vast benefit to the peoples of Europe, in both correcting abuses and ensuring that people may live without fear of the state. It is too valuable for its reputation to be thrown away on the back of one case. What the interpretation of the convention lacks, in the hands of lawyers and judges, is a proper sense of proportion. It cannot balance the offence felt by one woman against the outrage given to millions of Italians, on this occasion including many who are far from identifying with the interests of the Catholic Church. What they are saying is that what images they choose to put on the walls of their state schools is their business and nobody else’s. And if France bans crucifixes in such situations, as it does, that is up to the French.
The European Convention – which has nothing to do with the European Union – has become controversial in British politics too. The Tories want to replace the Human Rights Act with another, more carefully drafted. Defenders of the act as it is now will know that the Italian crucifix decision makes their task much harder. If this judgment survives one final appeal, not just the Human Rights Act in Britain will need a review, but the entire Convention itself.

"Making an ass of human righ" in The Tablet

1 comentário:

Sandra disse...

Interessante saber que foi uma imigrante e nao Italiana que reclamou dos crucifixos!