Amid what Italian media is describing as “open war” on school nativity scenes, Italy’s Education Ministry has slapped back, granting approval to installing crucifixes and reinstating nativity scenes in the nation’s classrooms.

“The crucifix is for me the symbol of our history, our culture, our traditions,” said Education Minister Marco Bussetti, speaking to the Federation of Catholic Schools’ annual congress in Rome. “I don’t see how it can cause any irritation in our school rooms, on the contrary it may help kids to reflect on our history.”

Bussetti is not alone.

When a school in the city of Terni, northeast of Rome, cancelled its traditional nativity play in order to respect children from other cultures, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini slammed the measure as “IDIOCY,” according to a Voice of Europe report.

“It is not just about religion,” said Salvini on Facebook, “but about history, roots, culture. I will not give up.”

“Long live our traditions, and may they spread!” he added. 

A representative of the populist Lega Party, Valeria Alessandrini, first brought the situation at the school in Terni to the attention of Italians, saying:

Only by respecting (our own traditions) … can we make others understand everyone is free to practice their own faiths but that it is also required they respect the history and culture of the country in which they live.

I hope that children and young people at the school will be allowed to share with their peers and their parents the most beautiful, intense and meaningful moments of Christmas. 

For years, forces have been at work demanding the removal of all expressions of Christianity from Italian schools in order to respect other cultures. In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the presence of crucifixes in Italian classrooms.

Date published: 07/12/2018
Written by: Doug Mainwaring
Feature image:With the back-to-school season quickly approaching, a WalletHub study has ranked the states with the strongest public school systems. (SHUTTERSTOCK)
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