A Catholic cannot be passive towards more and more frequent and aggressive behaviours against Catholic values. More and more frequent cases of the cross profanation must be worrying.

Among many possibilities of defending and expressing objection against these attitudes, the most effective form in the democratic country should be actions of the legal nature. For, these are international contracts, constitution or, finally, acts which equip with particular instruments that can be effectively used in order to defend breached rights, including just the freedom for religion and expressing one's opinions.

We should start with the guarantee in international contracts whose party is Poland. Here it is worth referring to, for example, the Convention of Human Rights Protection and Basic Freedoms, drafted on 4 November 1950 in Rome, which was implemented on 3 September 1953. In the articles 9 and 14 it guarantees relatively the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as a prohibition of discrimination because of expressed religion or opinions.

On the basis of the convention, the European Tribunal of Human Rights was established, with its headquarter in Strasburg. Complaints to the Tribunal can be addressed both by individuals and groups of people or institutions.

It was just the European Tribunal of Human Rights which made a decision in 2011 about the known issue concerning hanging the cross in Italian schools. In this verdict the right for the presence of the cross in the public place was acknowledged – in this case at school. The proceeding before the Tribunal allows for pronouncement in the role of an intervener of other organizations, including countries.

Unfortunately, despite existing possibilities of emphasizing presentation of its attitude, the Polish government is very reserved in using this instrument. Such behaviour should be esteemed as a serious mistake. As for the presence of the cross at school, the Italian government was supported by ten other member countries of the Council of Europe, but Poland was not included in this group. But the verdict in this issue, although it concerned Italy, clearly impinges on the way of interpreting rights and civil freedoms in the whole Europe. So, the voice of every country was very significant, whereas silence in such a key issue can be perceived as a lack of interest in the issues of religious freedom or even a consent to its restriction. Such an attitude can, finally, lead to the elimination of religious symbols from the public space. What is especially not understandable is the fact that Poland, a country so strongly rooted in faith and Christian tradition, should be one of leaders of freedom defence and Catholics' rights. It is obvious that not all verdicts of the European Tribunal of Human Rights are beneficial for Christians. The Tribunal often made unfavourable decisions.

In this point, it is worth reminding one of the decisions. The European Tribunal of Human Rights did not state the breach of any right towards a clerk from London, who refused to preside over a ceremony of contracting a homosexual partnership marriage. The Tribunal decided that the London Registry Office had behaved in a right way, disciplining Lilian Ladele working there, who in 2007 had refused to preside over ceremonies of contracting partnership relations by people of the same sex. It does not change the fact that it is necessary to use a tool which is the European Tribunal of Human Rights, in order to fight for and defend one's rights, and the Polish government cannot be passive in proceedings of such a high significance.


„Niedziela” 37/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl