Statement of Czech bishops concerning the European Court of Human Rights decision
Statement of the Czech Bishops' Conference
concerning the decision of the European Court of Human Rights
in Strasbourg on November 4, 2009
The Czech Bishops' Conference communicates its reservations concerning the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on November 4, 2009 that declares crucifixes placed in Italian schools as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights is a judicial authority created by a decision of European states, associated in the Council of Europe, to explain the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with a view to ensure carrying out the obligations that result from the Convention.
According to the Chapter 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, "[t]he aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress." The identical basic aim is stated in the Preamble of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well.
However, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, following the tendency to remove the cross from public and social life, contradicts this basic aim of the Council of Europe and the European Convention, because Christianity, traditionally proclaiming timeless rights and freedoms of every man, is a constant part of the ideals and principles that create a common patrimony of European states; the cross, as a basic Christian attribute, is at the same time a symbol of the common European heritage.
The decision of the European Court of Human Rights also manifests an insensitive attitude towards religious feelings of European nations, to their traditions and international cooperation in the area of health care, humanitarian and social help within the Red Cross.
The Czech Bishops' Conference rejects these efforts to drive out traditional manifestations of the Christian culture from the social life and substitute them by atheistic attitudes. These efforts are incorrectly proclaimed as religious and ideological neutrality; however, atheism itself is an ideology.
The Czech Bishops' Conference expects this decision to be a solitary act. We hope that member states of the Council of Europe will not be subject to denying the principles upon which the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights were created.
Prague, January 5, 2010