[In preparation for the day when it becomes a Madaras (Muzzie school) without any religious statues or other such objects, which Islam regards as idolatrous]

by Juliana Freitag  •  ChurchMilitant  •  December 23, 2017

Principal caves to complaints by Muslims and atheists, ignores Catholics’ wishes

PALERMO, Sicilty (ChurchMilitant) – A Sicilian school is catching heat for caving to secularist pressure. Elementary school Ragusa Moleti in Palermo recently started prohibiting prayer during lessons, as well as removing Catholic statues from its building. The surprise decision from Principal Nicolò La Rocca, communicated via internal email at the end of November (without discussion with parents or teachers) came after a group of parents anonymously complained about what they called the excessive religious character of the state-funded school to liberal newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.
“Every day the children … find themselves before plaster representations of Saints and the Virgin Mary, in front of which some people even bother to arrange flowers and plants,” the newspaper stated, going on to blast the school for allowing teachers to pray with students before lessons and meals.
When questioned by the paper, Nicolò La Rocca denied any knowledge of the religious imagery’s origins. “I’ve been here since September,” he said. “I’ve been working so much I didn’t have the time to question who … put all these images in here.”
As to the prayers, he dismissed them as “a southern Italian tradition,” hinting at the prejudice against southern Italians as an overly religious and superstitious people.
Although the newly arrived principal doesn’t know who put the statues in place, locals claim they’ve been in the school for over 30 years, donated by members of the community. “I am 50 years old, and when I attended this school the statues were already there,” says one Catholic mother.
Not knowing what to do with the “unwieldy” statues, the La Rocca placed them out of sight in the restroom.
“An enormous Buddha would have created problems as well,” he said, justifying his actions — but it’s more likely a Buddha statue would have been praised by secularists as a symbol of culture, open-mindedness, tolerance, multiculturalism. Had it wound up in a restroom, the principal would likely be facing charges of racism. The real goal of “secularism” is exactly this — not the peaceful co-existence of all religions, but the confinement of Christianity next to a toilet.
As one of the indignant Catholic parents put it, “We must respect everyone else’s religions … but nobody respects us.”
Il Fatto Quotidiano has gone so far as to note the discomfort of a Pastafarian (a member of the satirical atheist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster): “I am from a different religion,” the Pastafarian claimed. “Why should my children pray before a meal?”
Catholic statues left in school bathroom

The response from the center-right political establishment was immediate. Former Minister of Infrastructures Maurizio Lupi contested La Rocca’s email (which invoked a 2009 ruling from the Department of Justice that forbade “any celebration of worship or religious celebrations in schools during lesson hours”): “A much-boasted secularism that feels threatened by praying children is quite a fragile secularism,” Lupi argued, “one that is ready to stand up for all religions and cultures, except Catholicism.”

Gabriele Toccafondi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, declared that “it seems like the decision of this principal is much more about ideology than it is about freedom.”
Even the Minister of Education, Valeria Fedeli from the Italian Democratic Part (a politician who has repeatedly lied about her credentials, and is an advocate of abortion and gender theory), thought the decision was disproportionate.
“The principal is acting inappropriately. The 2009 ruling forbade public religious schools, and that is different from having Catholic symbols in classrooms,” she claimed. “If he intervened in this way it’s because he hasn’t listened to parents.”
For this declaration, the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) has called for Fedeli’s resignation.
Member of Parliament Alessandro Pagano, from Lega Nord (“Northern League””), went even furtherpersonally going to the school and handing a new statue of Our Lady to the principal.
Preventing little children from prayin “is ignoble,” Pagano insisted. “Leaving the parents out of this decision is authoritarian. I’m ready to go to the school myself and protest against … the head of the school, who’s abusing his power to affirm an anti-Christian vision of the world.”
Pagano’s action was contested by a few blue-haired parents carrying the Italian Constitution, led by members of UAAR.
But the most significant reaction came from the families themselves. Supported by the teachers (who, according to the principal, lived “under a climate of tension”) and prompted by their own children (Italian media reported on the students’ disappointment with the school’s actions), parents took matters into their own hands.
They started by rallying in front of the school to protest the decision. “We haven’t been consulted, and our opinion matters,” said one father.
“He [the principal] hasn’t even addressed us today when we tried to speak to him. He turned his back and walked away,” said a mother. “He says he won’t take a step back, but he’ll have to; because if he does not take one step back, we are going to take one step ahead.”
The parents did indeed take one step ahead, by launching an online petition describing La Rocca’s actions as “belonging to a secular fury typical of the Jacobin terror” — referring to the atheist regime of the French Revolution that persecuted Catholics.
The petition gathered more than 10,000 signatures in under 24 hours; a letter in support of the principal gathered a mere 468 signatures. The parents went a step further and sent their children to school with rosaries around their necks.
“As a sign of protest, tomorrow our children will come to school with the rosaries,” a defiant Catholic mother explained. “He [the principal] thought we were stupid because we are from southern Italy. I think he didn’t realize what he was getting into.”
“Our children will come with the rosaries, and they’ll pray in front of the school. They can’t ban that,” declared another mother.
Archbishop Michele Pennisi of Monreale (in the province of Palermo), who was for 10 years secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference Commission for Catholic education, issued a statement: “Catholic tradition is part of the Italian culture. … All schools must have symbols of all religions. If the Quran or other symbols aren’t present, that’s because 98 percent of students are Catholic.”
An important detail of the dispute, ignored by media, is the account of a mother who revealed to newspaper La Repubblica that the ordeal began because of the complaint of a Muslim father, which was then followed by complaints by atheists.
Protecting one Muslim family’s sensibilities, La Rocca deprived thousands of children from devout Catholic families of the symbols of their religion, the customs of their faith, the imagery of their culture. He confined the Virgin Mary to a bathrom — all seemingly with the complicity of a biased press, which hid this fundamental fact from every single report, hiding under the guise of “secularism.”
After many days of controversy, La Rocca agreed to meet a few parents and allowed the children to pray in the school again, as long as “the moments of prayer are spontaneous, and not promoted by the school.” The statues were removed and, according to parents, no longer sitting in the restroom.
Church Militant reached out to La Rocca but received no response.


Get AQ Email Updates

Leave a Reply