Religion and Politics in Italy
Religion is an integral part of politics in Italy. The Roman Catholic Church is the most prevalent denomination in Italy. However, there are other religious groups in Italy such as evangelical Protestants, Muslims, Jehovah Witnesses, Waldensian Evangelical Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Jews (Ferrari and Silvio 431). Despite the national census failure to disclose the people’s religious affiliations, it is evident that Catholic religion is the popular religion in Italy. The available status on religion in Italy is reliable but somehow contradictory. For instance, while 90% of the students take Catholic classes in school, only 40% of the taxpayers remit part of their income tax to the Catholic Church. Despite the contradiction, it is evident that the Catholic has the power to influence the politics in Italy.
The Catholic Church has greatly influenced the performance of political institutions and the religious laws formed by the progressive governments (Ferrari and Silvio 434). For instance, the position of the Catholic Church influenced King Charles Albert 1 to introduce a constitution that described Catholic as the state religion in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. Later, the statute became operational when Italy became the United Kingdom until the year 1948. Nevertheless, progressive governments discerned how to reduce the impacts of the Catholic Church on the state institutions. The liberal governments in the new state created after the Confederacy of Italy in 1860 and 1870 allowed practices that went against the Catholic Church beliefs. For instance, they restricted Catholic education in schools and the introduction of obligatory civil marriages. After the introduction of such practices, a large number of the Catholic became hostile against the Kingdom of Italy, and the government had to find ways to reduce the tense brought by the Catholic religion. Subsequently, the government formed more treaties and laws to enhance the relationship with the Catholic Church, for instance, Lateran Treaties and various ordinary laws were introduced (Ferrari and Silvio 434).
The church has also been making informal and mutual agreements with the governments. The Catholic Church has been influencing the formation of policies in Italy by warning the believers against voting. In the Gentiloni agreement, the Catholic Church agreed to support the candidates affiliated to Giolitti. In return, the Giolitti government was required to support the policies of the Catholic Church (Garau 96).
The Catholic Church had been involved directly in politics after the incident where leaders had allowed for practices that were against the beliefs of the Catholic Church. In various elections, the Catholic Church has been involved in activities that influence the decisions of the voters. The Democrazia Cristiana is a Catholic party that has proved its capability in the national elections in Italy. In 1992, the party had proved to be the most powerful party in Italy by gaining 29.7% of the total votes cast. After the coup that took place in 1948, the elections that followed had many interested parties including Russia and USA with the widespread ideologies of the communism and capitalism. In the search of the freedom, the people in Italy favored the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) (La Rovere 4). The DC obtained majority votes of 48.5%. Popularity of the Catholic grew after the unification of Italy and it had to seek political empowerment. After the post-war, the Catholic Church had been involved in the politics largely and determined the winners of major elections posts. The Catholic Church had directed the people in the Catholic religion on the preferred candidates especially those who vied using the DC party (La Rovere 5).
The great impact that the politics had to the church is through secularization. Scholars and the political elites have been against the control of the states by the church. Initially, after the unification of Italy Liberal governments had made certain that the Church had lost its political power. Adamson (479) described Pope as having very significant political power in Italy. Consequently, political leaders had to seek a more positive relationship with the church. In the process of secularization, a gap grew between the church and the states. The church had lost the control of the state affairs. Moreover, the political elites made certain that the church had lost the control of the people’s life and intellectual activities. Secularization intended to ensure that people deviated from the established beliefs and activities of the church such as rites and ethics (Ignazi and Spencer 25).
The politics had influenced laws and majorly favored the religion with the largest number of followers. An important law is the Italian ecclesiastical law. The laws allowed for the formation of a system made up of the four tiers. The Catholic Church, due to its significance in the history of the Italy, is granted the outstanding position. The Villa Madam Agreement and other ordinary laws in Italy protect the position of the church. The other religious denominations that have made an agreement with the state and have been in Italy for a longer period are at the intermediary level. They are allowed tax deductions for all the activities the denominations carry out as a non-profit organization. In the lower level are the denominations that the Law Nr. 1159 regulates. Lastly, the lowest tier constitutes of the religious denominations that have been introduced in Italy recently, for instance, the Muslim religion (Ferrari and Silvio 442). The political representatives have made laws that differentiate the level attained by the religious institutions.
It is evident that the religious institutions have made efforts to ensure the political leaders are responsible. The Catholic Church formed a political party that would unite the Catholics. The church has worked to make certain that the strategy of secularization does not succeed (La Rovere 34). The Catholic Church has made efforts to ensure that the government is ethically responsible. After the unification of Italy, the Liberal governments introduced the forced civil marriages and amendment of the laws that ensured the protection of the religion. Catholic believers were hostile to the move, and the government had to reconsider the decisions made (Ferrari and Silvio 434).
The various religions have a very significant impact in Italy. Apart from the positive influence in the politics, the religions are part of the society and have a great impact on the people. They are significant to people's life and the way of thinking. For instance, the jurists and the theorists utilized the biblical teachings in addition to the classical sources in their work. Brunetto greatly cites the work of Aristotle and Cicero as well as the understanding of the Old Testament. He described that the government cities should be formed of the three pillars of love, reverence, and justice. The rules should ensure the attainment of the Christian virtues of charity, hope, and faith. The religions define the boundaries of right in the nations, cities and the community (Tarcov 44). This role is also emphasized in Tarcov’s statement, “In a republican government justice must be sacred” (54).
Religion is significant on the unity, continuity as well as for encouragement to the societies in Italy. The religion creates a unified society, especially the Catholic Church that unites many people in Italy (Schultz and Paul 43). The author described Italy as Romanized. The culture of the Roman people spread all over Italy with ease. The Catholic religion served not only as a religious but was highly described a significant national heritage (Ferrari and Silvio, 431). The beliefs in the Catholic religions acted to unite the people in Italy (Viroli 56). It was important after the war when the people had to unite against the introduction of capitalism and communism.
The religions and the politics in Italy have a close relationship. Both have the impact on one another especially with the dominance of the Catholic Church. Politicians are dependent on religion in their success. Religion highly influences the political world by being involved directly or indirectly in politics. Both political and religious institutions are vital to people in Italy.
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