Crucifixes Permitted in Italy's
Schools, Court Rules
The European Union's highest court has ruled on the highly controversial case of whether the display of crucifixes in Italy's public schools violates the guarantee of religious freedom. See: “European court says crucifixes can remain in Italian schools (Updated)”
The March 18 ruling has been largely eclipsed by violent events on the international scene, but it underscores the ongoing battle for European identity. On the one hand, there are those who argue that Europe, as Hilaire Belloc put it succinctly, is the (Catholic) Faith; there are others who claim that Europe should be patterned after the humanistic Rights of Man, as exalted by the French Revolution.
The case, which originated in 2006, was ruled on by a lower court in 2009, where it was decided that crucifixes in public schools constituted a form of religious indoctrination forbidden by the protocols of the European Union. The decision was the subject of a commentary in Our Lady's Electronic Newsletter. See: "'Secular' Italy May No Longer Have Cross to Bear"
The Italian government appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber of that court, whose 17 judges ruled in 15-2 decision in Strasbourg that lawyers for the plaintiff in the case, Soile Lautsi, had not proven that the presence of the crucifix in the classroom had any appreciable effect on students.
The registrar for the Grand Chamber explained the judges' decision in part by saying that there was no evidence that "the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils."
The believing Christian may be forgiven for having ambivalent feelings about this ostensible judicial victory. Has secularism been defeated, or has it triumphed so thoroughly as to make religious symbolism irrelevant?
The Italian bishops are pleased by the court's decision but were quick to emphasize that the crucifix has a broader meaning to men of all faiths as a reminder of fundamental human rights: "...the cross can be valued as a symbol for non-violence and resistance to retaliation."
So the crucifix will remain, but reference to its religious meaning will not be part of classroom instruction. The Grand Chamber's ruling is binding on all members of the European Union, but the terms of its ruling make it clear that the case before the court was not sufficiently supported by evidence.
The principle of secularization remains firmly in place.
We must work and pray ever more fervently that the Holy Father and the bishops will heed the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. (See: Petition to Our Holy Father — The Consecration of Russia
and Petition to Our Holy Father — The Release of the full Third Secret
Fewer Marriages Made in Heaven
in Rhode Island
Europe's growing secularization is a matter of concern for the Church, but that concern should not be confined to Europe. Statistics in the United States indicate a similar sidelining of the Faith, even in those areas where lukewarm Catholics once gave a respectful nod to the Church into which they were baptized.
Rhode Island, the tiniest state in the U.S., is also proportionately the most Catholic. The Church once presided over almost half of all the marriage ceremonies in Rhode Island. That figure has been declining: from 43 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in 2005. The trend is likely to continue. See: "Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I."
In the 40 years from 1969 to 2009, the number of Rhode Island's Catholics getting married in the Church has fallen a whopping 71 percent. Various reasons are ascribed to the phenomenon. One might say that commentators on the decline of religious practice have rounded up the usual suspects: growing secularization, poor catechesis and social trends that are diametrically opposed to Church teaching about marriage and sexuality.
Certainly, the permissiveness of modern society has largely removed the social disapprobation once attached to premarital sex and illegitimacy. The result: about 42 percent of children in the U.S. are born out of wedlock: See: "Pessimism, Not Despair"
The Church's general reticence on the subject of artificial birth control is also regarded by many Catholics as tacit approval, or at least benign neglect.
Even those Catholics whose Mass attendance was rather irregular (including C & E Catholics — those who attended Mass on Christmas and Easter only) — would not have thought of marrying outside the Church until about 40 years ago, as the statistics bear out. What happened 40 years ago? Vatican II and what has been perceived as the Church's belated attempt to get in step with a culture that often moves away from the fundamental tenets of the Faith.
So the Church appears to be losing even its attenuated role as an officiator of the important ceremonies in life, including marriage.
Pope Benedict has called for a new evangelization and established a new Vatican office dedicated to this venture. But we know that the restoration of the Faith at this time cannot be accomplished by a new bureaucracy in Rome. One wonders to what extent the very men charged with this mission believe in its probable success.
Our Lady of Fatima says that only She can help us. And She will help us when the Pope and the bishops do as She and Her Son have asked: Consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Until this is done, the battle for the soul of what was once Christendom will be fought in the courts and in the general culture, and the Church will continue to lose ground. Let us urge our Church leaders to take the means offered them for the conversion of the world. Let us pray and petition the Pope and the bishops for the Consecration of Russia.
Come to Rome for "Consecration Now!"
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will begin May 8 and continue through May 13, 2011. We estimate that it will cost $1,350 per person. This includes 6 nights at one of Rome's premier hotels, three meals per day, admission to the conference, transportation to and from a papal audience as well as transportation to and from the airport. Airfare is not included.
Last year's Fatima Challenge
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has the potential to write a whole new chapter in the ongoing story of Fatima. Be there and witness it in person.
Time is short and space is limited. Reservations will be accepted (upon payment in full and a signed reservation form) on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact us as soon as possible to ensure your place at this historic event in Rome.
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or visit ConsecrationNow.com
Latest Fatima Perspectives
Courting the Gentiles
— Our modern world has unfolded in such a manner as to make the late Catholic luminary Hilaire Belloc appear not only perspicacious but prophetic. As many as 80 years ago, between the two great wars of the last century, Belloc observed that we were witnessing the beginning of something we had never before seen. He called it the new paganism.
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