Spanish bishop questions why government is intent on removing crucifixes


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Toledo, Spain, Dec 9, 2009 / 08:39 pm (CNA/Europa Press).- Bishop Jose Sanchez of Siguenza-Guadalajara in Spain wondered aloud Monday why the Spanish government is so concerned about the removal of crucifixes in the classroom instead of the country's "very high drop-out rate, disagreements among teachers and youth unemployment."

According to Europa Press, Bishop Sanchez's latest pastoral letter focuses on a proposal in the Congressional Committee on Education that calls for the Spanish government to implement a ruling from the EU Human Rights Court ordering crucifixes be removed from all schools in Italy.

"I won't discuss whether or not this is a distraction by the government, which is overwhelmed by the grave economic situation, high unemployment and is on the verge of passing a law expanding abortion." The prelate noted that abortion is a much more serious issue than the "crucifixes, because it elevates the elimination of innocent and defenseless human beings to a right, even more than the current law does, which itself is unjust."

Bishop Sanchez said that with the approval of this proposal on crucifixes, the question is whether the government "has given yet another sign that is part of a more ambitious plan: that of reducing the action of religion, and more concretely that of the Catholic faith."

"They forget that freedom of expression, of association, of religion, the freedom to meet and to protest, are fundamental human rights that the Church, like any other religion and creed, exercises in the private and the public sphere," the bishop said.

"Interference by the Church into the public sphere would be if she attempted to legislate, judge or govern in a civil forum-such as Parliament," he continued. "The Church does not intend to impose her beliefs, her practices or her symbols. She respects those of others and she has the right to have hers respected. In schools as well."

"The State is non-sectarian and the government may be lay, secular, non-sectarian, whatever; but citizens, in freedom, are what they are." He added that "many are believers, and they have rights which the State must respect, defend and protect, making it possible they be exercised, and never impeding, prohibiting or making it more difficult," the bishop concluded.