About two years ago, a piece of news appeared in the press that was neither a scoop, nor the only one, nor at all new. If I remember it, it is because it shows how certain “dogmas” are becoming established in the collective imagination of our people, acquiring the character of evident and, therefore, immovable. This was the news: Héctor, a 14-year-old adolescent from a town in Córdoba, wrote to the school management team at the beginning of the school year, claiming that he “could no longer tolerate” the crucifixes in the classrooms. Subsequently, accompanied by a secular association, he submitted a letter to the administrative office denouncing the presence of religious symbols in his school. In his declaration he literally stated: “It is you who must ensure that we have all the rights and freedoms recognised by the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Statute of Autonomy…”.
The news goes back a long time, but the problem is still open. There is no question of a rapprochement between the positions, and even less so in these polarised times. If a crucifix is a nuisance, any religious symbol can be questioned: should the singing of Christmas carols in the streets be banned, should we be allowed to wear a medal around our necks, should the Sagrada Familia, the façade of the Obradoiro or the cathedrals be destroyed or camouflaged, should we have to urge the removal from public view of any work in the Prado Museum with a religious theme, should the coat of arms of the Principality of Asturias be changed, and that of so many of our towns, streets or places?
The debate is now silenced, but not resolved. The principle of respect and tolerance for those who are different does not seem to apply to religion. A certain aggressive secularism, fuelled by political interests, persists in eliminating human and historical symbols, installing us in an empty cultural space. In this way, an amnesiac culture of its historical past is established, a culture that is totally colourless, aseptic, and based on nothingness that is inoffensive because it does not exist.
Prophetic voices are being raised. A writer, Natalia Ginzburg, Jewish and anti-fascist, wrote some time ago in the Italian daily L’Unitá: “Christianity does not engender any discrimination. Be quiet. It is the image of the Christian revolution that has spread throughout the world the idea of equality among men, hitherto absent. The Christian revolution has changed the world. Do we want to deny that the world has changed? For almost two thousand years we have been saying: “before Christ” and “after Christ”. The crucifix is the sign of human suffering… The crucifix is part of the history of the world. Isn’t this sign that has changed the world a necessary lesson rather than a symbolic voice to be silenced? Minorities have their rights, which must not be violated. But so do majorities, especially in the face of symbols that are so relevant to our history, and not only to Christianity.
Juan Carlos cmf
(PHOTO: Vanesa Guerrero, rpm)