Statement of Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, President of the Lithuanian Bishop’s Conference, regarding the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the case Sekmadienis Ltd. v. Lithuania
The decision of the Strasbourg Court opens the way for businesses to profit at the expense of the dignity of other members of society. Such advertising has nothing to do with a critique of religious beliefs or ensuring a diversity of opinions or the competition of ideas in a free democratic society. The court, in this case, failed to notice the profanation of Jesus’ and Mary’s images for commercial profit-making purposes.
Judge De Gaetano in his Concurring Opinion states that this judgment does not give carte blanche to the use of religious symbols, whatever the medium, context or message intended to be conveyed. A state may legitimately consider it necessary to take measures aimed at repressing certain forms of conduct, including the imparting of information and ideas, judged incompatible with respect for the freedom of thought, conscience and the religion of others.
In equating commercial interests with freedom of expression, the court’s decision dangerously opens the way for people in seeking to achieve their commercial goals to profit by attacking the religious sentiments of the faithful in a society and profaning their religion.
It is hard to call a society free and responsible, if it does not respect the religious beliefs of others, no matter what religion they confess, especially when these beliefs are exploited for the purpose of profit, while causing division among the members of a society by deprecating religious symbols which are important to believers.
Information prepared by Secretariat of Lithuanian Bishop’s Conference