A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross


Stanislav Zvolensky, the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Slovak capital here, was thrilled when he was invited to Brussels three years ago to discuss the fight against poverty with the insistently secular bureaucracy of the European Union.

“They let me in wearing my cross,” the archbishop recalled.

It therefore came as a rude surprise when, late last year, the National Bank of Slovakia announced that the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, had ordered it to remove halos and crosses from special commemorative euro coins due to be minted this summer.

The coins, designed by a local artist, were intended to celebrate the 1,150th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival in Slovak lands but have instead become tokens of the faith’s retreat from contemporary Europe. They featured two evangelizing Byzantine monks, Cyril and Methodius, their heads crowned by halos and one’s robe decorated with crosses, which fell foul of European diversity rules that ban any tilt toward a single faith.

“There is a movement in the European Union that wants total religious neutrality and can’t accept our Christian traditions,” said Archbishop Zvolensky, bemoaning what he sees as rising a tide of militant secularism at a time when Europe is struggling to forge a common identity.

In a continent divided by many languages, vast differences of culture and economic gaps, the archbishop said that centuries of Christianity provide a rare element shared by all of the soon-to-be 28 members of the fractious union. Croatia, a mostly Catholic nation like Slovakia, joins next month.

Written By: Andrew Higgins
continue to source article at nytimes.com


  1. Dear Stan, there’s nothing particularly rare about anything that xtians share unless you are talking about the tendency to fall for bullshit stories spread around by people who are disingenuous in the highest degree.

  2. Oh boo hoo, Archbishop, get over yourself. You can celebrate you faith in your churches, in your masses and other services. You can raise money to build new cathedrals if you feel like it, because you now live in a free society. 25 years ago you were pretty much part of the USSR. Get over yourself, and thank the god you appear to believe in that you are where you are.

  3. There’s no doubt in my mind that the RCC will take every available opportunity to promote its ridiculous views. Symbols on a coin ? Was it not Jesus himself who said “render unto Caesar that which is his” ? The Archbishop can huff and he can puff, but the billy goats gruff will get him from behind !

  4. To me it seems perfect that different religions of Europe want to celebrate religious events, but must do so in the temples. The Euro circulates freely throughout the Union. It is completely ridiculous that acurrency carry religious symbols belonging to one religion when Europe is a plural entity. At this stage, all the nations of the European Union should know that what is public should be secular. In many former communist countries, as well as in Spain, there are segments of the population who haven’t yet digested the concept of democracy, specially the local Church that thinks it has the monopoly of culture.

  5. May be a coin minted with giordano bruni being burnt at the stake would be equaly appreciated as a reminder of european history by the church.
    before christians play the stalin card even if stalin was motivated by atheism , I couldn’t care less, we are not the ones who claim to drink at the well of absolute morality. well i would hope not atleast.

  6. It is after all history and culture. Don’t make martyrs of them, that’s what they want. Anyway it’s only money! By the way Mr. DArcy No. 3, the three little pigs get huffed and puffed and it’s the billy goats gruff and the troll. Just that I have read them countless times to my children. You never forget them. Sounds a bit like indoctrination by repetition. That rings a bell! Sounds familiar. Maybe it’s just learning stuff. (Well sometimes)!

  7. Militant secularism indeed!Hypocrite.How many Roman Catholics have been subjected to torture and burning?YOU should be quiet and thank your non existent god that secularists aren’t in the business of forcing beliefs upon others as you people have done for far too long.

  8. he’s right insomuch as christianity was enforced across europe. that much is something shared by all member states.

    simliarly, the islands of the west indies might want to mint a coin celbrating the slave trade which unites them all.

    just becuase the idea of a combined europe goes back to the days of empirical tyranny doesn’t mean that has anything to do with its purpose now. granted christianity is possibly the largest religion but there are no shortage of muslims too. and jews, of course not as many as there were before the last time someone tried to unite europe under a single tyrannical leader but then the catholic church wouldn’t know anything about that would they…?

  9. It still amazes me that some people think ‘neutrality’ is the same as ‘militant’.

  10. I`m not convinced that dictats from stuffed shirt beaurocrats do anything but feed some peoples sense of persecution. Besides, most of us Europeans have a broad Christian culture – to acknowledge this on national currency is hardly indoctrinating the masses. This whole story would have been a non-event until EU interference gave the faithful an opportunity to bang the drum. In the long term, education and reason should be adequate tools with which to neuteralise religion – suppression is likely to have an adverse effect. Incidentally, Religion and the EU have a lot in common. They are both flawed, artificial constructs.

  11. I see Czech screen wall paper every once in a while. What and incredibly beautiful part of the world to live. Perhaps they could celebrate that. Czechs have as many composers as Germany, e.g. Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Gustav Mahler.
    Everybody knows King Wencelas (Vaclav). Perhaps highlight something new about him.

  12. In reply to #12 by Roedy:

    Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Gustav Mahler,
    King Wencelas (Vaclav)…

    …Smetana’s ever popular ‘Vltava’…

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