Working to promote freedom of conscience for every person, no matter who they are or where they live.

Religious Liberty Symposium in the Italian Senate

Palazzo Giustiniani, part of the Italian Senate (A. Mazza)

Rome, Italy [Andreas Mazza, CD EUDNews]. February 23, 2015.

“From authorized Cult to Religious Liberty” Conference was held at the Italian Senate on February 16 and 17.

It was promoted by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), and in collaboration with the Commission of Evangelical Churches in relation to the State (CCERS).

Dedicated to the memory of Gianni Long, jurist and former FCEI president, the conference was attended by Italian and international experts on a topic of increasing relevance in a country progressively pluralistic in professions of faith. 

"The message at the Conference was very clear - said FCEI Chairman, pastor Massimo Aquilante - renewing the commitment of Protestants in Italy in support of a new law, to abolish the laws that date back to the fascist era on “state-authorized religions” and to fully guarantee constitutional principles relating to religious freedom. The presence of members from different evangelical churches confirms a common journey initiated when we were still discussing the articles of the Constitution - said FCEI president - it has never stopped, not even when the first evangelical churches obtained an Agreement. Freedom of religion and conscience is not just a political battle, it is also a cultural commitment, I would say it is an ethical duty of Italian evangelism".

There were many experts that attended the conference, not only from Italy but also from other European countries, who on one hand addressed the current critical legislation in Italy and on the other hand, referred to the European framework and the Community institutions guidelines on this delicate matter. 

One of the most influential guest speakers was Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) and one of the highest Officers in the Vatican. "It is a good sign that we notice suffering today not only by evangelicals but by all faith communities - concluded Aquilante - an urgent and needed turn and breakthrough in legislation".

Italy is characterized by an increasingly dynamic and diverse ethnic mosaic of faiths and religions while the delicate matter of religious freedom continues to be governed by the old laws stemming from the fascist era on "state-authorized religions". In recent decades, while the number of religions entering into an agreement with the state have increased, many of the proposals regulating relations between the State and the various faith communities, haven't materialized. 

This results in various critical issues in terms of the rights for the smaller and more recent professions of faith rooted in the country, especially in relation to worship, recognition of ministers in performing marriages, practices and rituals related to various religious traditions.

FCEI and CCERS are committed to uphold and defend the rights of different denominations while following developments of legal texts on religious freedom by maintaining constant contact with a group of lawyers.

The point of this conference was to urge the political forces to deal with commitment and urgency in an issue of great importance to quality and harmony in an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious society.

Particularly significant has been the presence of the President of the Senate, Pietro Grasso, who highlighted the efforts of the Italian institutions to protect the dignity of all religions in Italy.

Representing the Adventist Church was Dr. Tiziano Rimoldi, legal expert & professor at the Institute of Theological Florence 'Villa Aurora'.  Present were also Davide Romano, Director of the Adventist Union Department for Religious Liberty, Prof. Hans Gutierrez, professor at the Adventist Theological Institute in Florence, and former UICCA President, Franco Evangelisti.  Recording the event via radio (Radio Voice of Hope), was editor Mario Calvagno.

Pictures. 1. The Panel. 2. The audience. 3. Bishop Nunzio Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). 3. Pietro Grasso, President of the Italian Senate. (Credits: Andreas Mazza)

By: A. Mazza, Adm. Assistant EUD COM Department, CD EUDNews.