Rome (Jun. 22)
Italian Senator Guido Gonella told the 10th National Congress of Jewish Communities yesterday that “a great part” of their protests about relations between Italy and minority religions had been accepted. Gonella heads the government commission for revising the 1929 concordat between Italy and the Vatican and for reaching an “understanding” with other confessions.
The Union for Italian Jewish Communities in the autumn of 1976 handed the government a memorandum sharply criticizing the Lateran pacts between Italy and the Vatican drawn up by the late Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The protests centered on the description of Roman Catholicism as “the state religion,” marriage, education and the Jewish catacombs in Rome. Sen. Gonella said most of the Jewish observations had been accepted by his commission and had been omitted from the new draft concordat.
The new draft, to be submitted to the Senate, omits the description of Catholicism as the state religion. Italian Jews are being given back control of the Jewish catacombs previously held by the Vatican and several points regarding marriage and education had been accepted, said Gonella. Other points, he added, were still open to discussion. Article eight of the Italian Constitution specifies that “all religious confessions are equally free before the law.” It further states that “religions other than Catholic can organize themselves according to their own statutes provided they do not contravene Italian law.” Gonella said: “I have come to assure you that the Italian delegation is motivated by the greatest good will to arrive soon at agreement and full understanding of the requirements of the Jewish minority.