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» 02/14/2012
RUSSIA
Religion becomes a compulsory subject in all Russian schools
by Nina Achmatova
Putin signs a decree to introduce the fundamentals of religion at a national level. From September, pupils can choose between Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, or opt for "moral ethics".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - After two years of experimentation, from next September, the fundamentals of religion will become a compulsory subject in all Russian schools. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved the decree that introduced the teaching of religion throughout the country following a trial that took place only in some regions.

The elementary and middle school students may choose to study either the history of one of the four religions termed 'traditional' - Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism - or more general courses on "foundations of religious culture" or "Fundamentals of public ethics ". So far the lessons have been concentrated in only a quarter of the school year, but the Orthodox Church has asked it be extended over the whole year in 2012. Banned during the Soviet period, religion returned to schools in April 2010 but only in 19 regions, with an initiative strongly supported by the Patriarch of Moscow and blessed by the Kremlin, interested in cementing common values of national identity .

From the beginning, the idea has raised strong criticism in Russia, a country that has experienced 70 years of state atheism, and where different ethnicities and religions live. "I think it is wrong to divide the children into groups according to religion - said Ivar Maskurov, an expert on religions – it could cause many problems."

Another objection raised by critics of religion in the school is the lack of qualified teachers and good textbooks, as was admitted by the Elena Romanova, Head of the Ministry of Education for the teaching of religion.

The skepticism of the secular world is not shared by the religious themselves. Not only does the Patriarchate of Moscow support the initiatibe, but also the Muslim community. The mufti Krganov Albir, Chairman of the Committee of Muslim spiritual in Chuvashia (Russian autonomous republic) said that "the new subject has become very popular with both pupils and parents in Chivashia schools. Parents say they have learned a lot about religion when their children attend these courses."

In February, at Putin's order, the Ministry of Education launched training courses for teachers of religion, while in March the families will have to decide which course in which to enroll their children.

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See also
08/20/2009 RUSSIA
Religion is back in Russian schools, but under the aegis of the Kremlin
01/26/2010 RUSSIA
Teaching religion in school distances Russians from Orthodoxy
03/28/2011 RUSSIA
As of 2012, religion will be studied in all Russian schools
by Nina Achmatova
09/07/2009 RUSSIA
More than 70 per cent of Russians in favour of teaching Orthodox culture in schools
06/23/2005 RUSSIA - VATICAN
The Vatican backs the Russian Orthodox Church on religion in schools

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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