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The Crucifix, the Classroom and the Court.

Not allowed in class, apparently.

I was born and raised in Italy. In those years, Catholicism was the “Official Religion of the State” and this was anchored in the Italian Constitution. A Crucifix adorned every classroom. This was, besides its obvious religious significance, a most natural cultural factor. The mere idea of questioning its presence would have seemed bizarre in the extreme.

Then came the (disgraceful) “Revision of the Concordate”. Catholicism was not the Official Religion of the State anymore, but the State recognised the “cultural role” played by the Church in Italy’s life. The Crucifix remained on the school walls, but in “superior schools” at the beginning of the year the teachers had to ask whether there was opposition to it. In my school of twenty classes, opposition never came.

Mind you, this was not because of the absence of atheists (sometimes rather vocal ones; Communists were, after all, still around), but because even the Communists and Atheists would have been ashamed of asking for the removal of something so naturally part of the country’s cultural backbone. It would have been a bit like declaring pasta “fascist” and in those years even the Communists possessed the basic decency to respect commonly and widely spread religious feelings. In short: even those who insisted in being wrong took care not to appear stupid.
There might have been exceptions. I am sure they weren’t many.

Not anymore, you might say, but you’d be wrong. The support for the Crucifix is still widely spread within the Italian society. The biggest party of the Centre-Right coalition (yes, that one!) and the biggest party of the Centre-Left coalition (yes, the one with the ex-Communists in it!) are both in favour. So are many of the smaller parties. So is, in his overwhelming majority, the Country. The Crucifix, some years ago challenged by a Muslim father because – hear this – it “scared his child” was even upheld by the Italian Constitutional Court.

All right, then? Well, er, no. A not-so-well-known organ called Europe’s Human Rights Court (constituted by an even-less-known supranational organisation called Council of Europe, nothing to do with the EU by the way) has decided that the Crucifix has to go. What the tradition, the people, the political parties and the judicial system of the country all consider right is actually, we are informed, wrong.

The Italian government has now presented an appeal, together with another dozen or so countries. Even if they should lose the appeal, I do not doubt that as long as the Centre-Right coalition is in power they will do whatever they please for as long as they please. Italian governments have this down to a fine art and the Italian electorate – always fond of the “furbi” – would like it a lot. I can’t imagine that they would just give up. They might even be hoping to lose the appeal and reap a rich harvest with the opposition to it, but that’s just me.

Still, I must reflect on a couple of things (three, actually):

1) this is what happens when a government consents to participate to feel-good initiatives only meant to create jobs and to show some humanitarian activism. Italy is no Zimbabwe. No, really. It knows a thing or two about human rights, democracy, and Crucifixes. Yes, even the actual Prime Minister 😉

2) I am fed up (as many of you I am sure are) with delegation of Sovereign Powers (at least nominally) to supranational organisations. If you ask me, it means to put your cultural patrimony at the mercy of a bunch of feminists (of whatever sex) and atheists largely of other countries. You don’t want that.

3) This must be reversed. Italy must (as every other European country) proudly re-claim the *right to decide for itself* in matters like this. It can’t be that a bunch of judges start to remould the cultural fabric of an entire Country against the will of its Parliament, Judiciary and people.

If we don’t wake up, we’ll all end up in the hands of a bunch of social nannies playing God at our expense.

Mundabor.

Papal Tiara again

Tiara Palatina. More of this, please. Source: Wikivisual.

I have written some time ago about the lost and now slowly rediscovered solemnity and pomp of papal appearances. I read today from His Hermeneuticalness ‘s blog that the Papal tiara donated by members of the Belgian Court to Pius IX in 1871 could be used during the Papal visit to the UK.

This is good news for more than one reason. Firstly, it shows that Pope Benedict is – would be, might be – determined to give back to the Papacy the dignity which belongs to such a high and sacred office. Secondly, it is a beautiful reminder that not everything must be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of shallow mass TV audiences. Thirdly and probably most importantly, it shows the will to proceed in a determined way with such a symbolic recovery of papal authority in the country where such authority is most likely to be aggressively fought against.

If the papal tiara is really used during the UK visit, this will be a clear sign that the Holy Father intends to visit the United Kingdom not in a defensive spirit – that is: merely trying to minimise the damage made by the inevitably loud protesters – but with a clear pastoral intent: to refuse to bow down to the rhetoric of the mediocre and the populism of the hypocrites and to show the Greatness, Holiness, Truth and Universality of the Only Church in an assertive and unashamed way.

The Britons – very much fond of ceremonies – will rapidly get the symbolism of the papal tiara and rightly see in its use a show of authority and a claim to spiritual supremacy to which they are not accustomed. They will be perhaps surprised at first but I do trust that, on reflection, they will understand the message. Some will like it and some other won’t, but no one will be able to ignore it.

Let us hope that Pope Benedict will listen to the advice of some of his more conservative minded counsellors and resolve to take a step toward the restoration of assertive Catholicism.
We had more than enough populism during the Pontificate of his predecessor. More than enough shows of humility which became humiliations. More than enough playing down the authority of the Pope. Now is the time for assertiveness, for conservative and undiluted Catholicism, for the return to what is right rather than popular.

Mundabor

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