Simonetta Soldani

Needs, Fears and Practices of Laicity in Liberal Italy. Reflections in the Margin of XX September

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


In the building of the Italian State - a State with an established church from the statutory standpoint, but 'disavowed' and unrecognized for a long time by the Catholic Church - lay 'principles' and 'practices' form a highly contradictory and fluctuating mix in terms of both the laws and their enforcement and reception. After a rapid rereading of the delays and uncertainties that right from the start characterized the celebration by the ruling class of XX September 1870, the anniversary of the breach of Porta Pia (and thus of the end of the temporal power of the popes over Rome and of its 'rejoining' to Italy), attention is focused on two particularly sensitive issues regarding laicity: marriage and formal education. In the first case, the failure of the Civil Code of 1865 to recognize religious marriage as valid for civil purposes actually led to mass civil 'disobedience' that only time and the moderating influence of the parish priests managed to rein in; in the second case, the deletion of the teaching of religion from the syllabus (1877) opened a time of uncertainty as to application that would end in 1908 with Parliament's unwillingness to sanction the lay nature of public elementary school.

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