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Italy’s Highest Court Upholds Rights of Religious Minorities

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Italy’s Constitutional High Court yesterday threw out restraints on freedom of worship by religious minorities, The highest tribunal of its kind in the country, the court held that the constitution adopted in 1947 guarantees all religious communities the right of establishing houses of worship and conducting open religious services without prior permission of the police or other authority.

The matter was carried to the high court by Protestant leaders. However, the Jewish community has frequently expressed its opinion that the constitution guaranteed Jews full freedom of worship.

The court decision yesterday set one condition–it did not set aside laws of the Mussolini regime requiring state authorization for a person to act as a minister of a religious group. The court asserted that since clergymen perform acts which are binding on the state, such as performance of marriage ceremonies, they must be responsible to the state authority.

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