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Education

The connection between school/teaching and religion has always been very controversial

Since the debate regarding the interpretation of article 33§3 of the Constitution ("Public and private bodies have the right to establish schools and educational institutes without financial (...)

Since the debate regarding the interpretation of article 33§3 of the Constitution ("Public and private bodies have the right to establish schools and educational institutes without financial obligations to the State") and the balance between State and private schools (see law No. 62 of 10 March 2000, in Italian), questions have arisen regarding religious instruction in State schools and the freedom and financing of private religious schools.

Religious instruction – and in particular the Catholic religion which enjoys a special status – in State schools is mainly regulated by the following bilateral sources:

- Catholic Church: article 9 of the Revised Concordat of 18 February 1984 and article 5 of the annexed protocol (law No. 121 of 25 March 1985), followed by decree No.751 of 16 December 1985 and decree No. 202 of 23 June 1990 (in Italian)
- Waldensian Church: article 10 of law No.449 of 11 August 1984 (in Italian)
- Italian Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Churches: article 10 of law No.516 of 22 November 1988 (in Italian)
- Assemblies of God in Italy: article 9 of law No.517 of 22 November 1988 (in Italian)
- Union of Jewish Communities in Italy: article 11 of law No.101 of 8 March 1989 (in Italian)

The Constitutional Court has intervened several times on the most hotly debated issues including the protection of freedom of conscience of students and families, the drafting of programmes and the allotment of teaching time, alternative activities, the status of teachers (a recent reform affirmed for the first time the full-fledged status of teachers while confirming their subjection to the Bishops’ control, law No. 186 of 18 July 2003, in Italian).

D 27 September 2012    AMarco Ventura

Education and religion

In Italy, the majority of pupils (90% in 2014) are educated at public schools, and about 65% of non-State schools are Catholic. Since 1984, the year in which the 1929 Lateran Pacts was renewed, (...)

In Italy, the majority of pupils (90% in 2014) are educated at public schools, and about 65% of non-State schools are Catholic. Since 1984, the year in which the 1929 Lateran Pacts was renewed, every student at any level of public education can choose to attend (1 hour per week) the teaching of Catholic religion. In the past years, about 88% of the Italian students have chosen to attend this teaching. At the same time, Article 10.3 of the 1984 agreement affirms that, in order to secure that nothing shall be wanting from the moral and religious point of view, the nomination of the professors of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is subject to the gradimento (approval) of the Congregation for Catholic Education, an institution of the Holy See. It is worth noting that in the 2009 Lombardi Vallauri v. Italy decision, the European Court of Human Rights held that the university’s interest in dispensing teaching based on Catholic doctrine could not extend to impairing the very substance of the procedural guarantees afforded by the European Convention.

See also Alessandro Ferrari, « La religion dans l’éducation publique - le cas italien » (p. 257-272, in French) published in the conference proceedings of the European Consortium for Church and State Research of 2010 dedicated to the topic "Religion in Public Education".

D 16 February 2021    AFrancesco Alicino ASimona Attollino

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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