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Lithuania: Strasbourg Court judgement on sacred images. Bishop Grusas, “desecration of images of Jesus and Mary for commercial purposes”

Il vescovo di Vilnius, mons. Gintaras Grušas

“The decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg allows companies to profit at the expense of the dignity of other members of society”. In a statement, the Archbishop of Vilnius, Mgr. Gintaras Grusas, president of the Lithuanian Bishops, responded to the judgement issued by the Court on 30 January, lamenting that the latter did not consider detrimental to public morals the fact that the company Sekmadienis Ltd. had used pictures and words related to Jesus and Mary in its 2012 advertising campaign. “Such advertising has nothing to do with criticism of religious beliefs or with ensuring diversity of opinions or with the competition of ideas in a democratic and free society”. According to Mgr. Grusas, the Court “failed to detect the desecration of the images of Jesus and Mary for commercial gain”. Equating “commercial interests with freedom of expression” would in fact allow “commercial objectives to be achieved” by “attacking religious sentiment” and “desecrating” the religion of some, which would ultimately “cause division among the members of a society” because “the religious symbols that are important to them” are mocked. For this reason, Grusas referred to the opinion of Judge De Gaetano, annexed to the judgement, which specifies that the judgement “does not give carte blanche to the use of religious symbols, whatever the medium, context or message intended or tending to be conveyed”.





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