Media Watch

Crucifixes Again Face Italian School Ban

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, Oct. 26 — Italy's Attorney General testified in an Italian courtroom Oct. 26 for the continuing presence of Christian symbols in state schools.

Antonio Palatiello argued before the Constitutional Court that display of the crucifix is “a visible sign of our special alliance with the Church for the promotion of man and the good of the Church,” Agence France Presse reported.

The privileged place of the Catholic Church in Italian schools is guaranteed by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, which is still in place, although the Church was disestablished after amendments to the Italian constitution agreed to by the Vatican in 1984.

The constitutional challenge resulted from a complaint by the Finnish-born mother of an Italian schoolchild. A decision is expected in November. Last year a Muslim complainant won a case to have crucifixes removed from schools but lost on appeal.

The growth of European multiculturalism has resulted in religious symbols being seen as divisive, and French public schoolchildren have been forbidden to wear Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses since September. Pope John Paul II has defended Christian witness, declaring, “Let's not be afraid to speak of God and to carry on high the signs of faith.”

Church Fathers Moving East

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY, Oct. 25 — Pope John Paul II has agreed to transfer the remains of Fathers of the Church Sts. John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianzus from the Vatican to the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul in November.

The decision was announced in a letter from the Holy Father to Patriarch Vatholomeos released Oct. 25.

John Chrysostom (347–407), Patriarch of Constantinople, called “golden-mouthed” for the splendor of his preaching, was tireless in his attacks on the decadence of the Byzantine court. Gregory of Nazianzus (329–389), also Patriarch of Constantinople, was a fearless opponent of the heretical Arians.

Church in France Promotes New Evangelization

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, Oct. 26 — The Catholic Church in France has heeded Pope John Paul II's call for “a New Evangelization” with a 10-day festival culminating Oct. 31 with a vast gathering at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, told the Catholic newspaper La Croix that this “congress of evangelization,” which includes concerts, conferences, debates and exhibitions, was planned as a remedy to urban alienation. “The big city, so brilliant and noisy, is a place of loneliness, and an emotional desert for many,” he said.

Paris is the second European city to host such a congress. Vienna was first, in 2003, while Lisbon, Brussels and Budapest will follow in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Italian Religious Tourism Booming

ANSA, Oct. 25 — Boosted by low-price airfares and diminished terrorism fears, religious tourism to Italy is up 15% to 20% from 2003, Vatican pilgrimage organizer Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi has reported. Italy is the fourth most-visited countr y in the world — after France, Spain and the United States — ANSA news ser vice noted, and pilgrims fill 12% of its hotel rooms. Religious tourism is a mainstay of the Italian economy, generating annual revenues of $4.5 billion.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his Angelus address August 30, 2020.

Pope Francis: The Path to Holiness Requires Spiritual Combat

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope said that “living a Christian life is not made up of dreams or beautiful aspirations, but of concrete commitments, in order to open ourselves ever more to God's will and to love for our brothers and sisters.”