Italian Court Rules on Jewish Girl Seeking to Change Her Religion

The Court of Minors handed down a decision here today, in the case of a 17-year-old girl who was born a Catholic, was converted to Judaism, then decided to re-enter Catholicism, holding that she has a right to choose her own religion. The effect of the ruling is that the girl, 17-year-old Alfonsina Sanguineti, has been given the right to be a Catholic in spite of objections by her family.

When Alfonsina was 9 years old, her mother married Giueseppe Sanguinetia, a laborer, who had himself converted to Judaism. Alfonsina’s mother and the woman’s two daughters, including Alfonsina, took on the Jewish religion.

The family left for Israel, stayed there several years, then returned to Italy. Alfon-sina refused to go to a Jewish school, Where she had been sent by her mother and stepfather, enrolling instead in a Catholic institution. The suit was brought by the parents who insisted she was Jewish.

The Court of Minors here has held that Alfonsina’s conversion to Judaism at the age of 9 “has no meaning” because she was too young to make a choice. At her present age, however, the court ruled: “The choice of one’s own religion is such a delicate matter that, even if the parents have a right to guide their offspring toward their own religion, no coercion should ever be used. “

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