Why this story matters:
Religious classes in Italian schools cost the state about 1.25 billion euros annually, yet the teachers are appointed by the Catholic Church. While the church's influence over the school system is not formalized, its power is great. But now, official recognition of that influence is increasing. Starting from this year, Catholic religion teachers will sit on Examination Commissions for lower secondary school exams, even though religion is not among the subjects of the examination.
This is another blow to the secularism of state schools. There is also a risk, as various associations warn, that this is a Trojan horse and only part of the ongoing process to reinstate Catholic religion as a compulsory subject in state schools.
Details from the story:
- In Italian state schools, the teaching of religion does not include the history of all religions, as some may think, but concerns only the Catholic religion and the doctrine of the Church.
- According to the current law, religion lessons are not mandatory, but they are mandatory in practice.
- Families fear discrimination if they opt out of these classes.
- Concern is also fuelled by the religion teachers' union (Snadir), which declared a desire for "including religion among the examination subjects and increasing the number of hours [of Catholic religion lessons] from one to two hours a week."