New Law in Italy Changes Way Religion is Taught in Schools

The Italian Parliament has passed a law that will make “religion” an optional subject in the high school curriculum. It has been hailed as a victory for the democratic and pluralistic philosophy and a fundamental change in the way religion is taught in this Catholic nation.

Hitherto, religion, meaning Catholicism, was a required subject, though students could request exemption at the beginning at the school year. Under the new law, students may elect to include or exclude religion from their studies.

In addition, relationships between the Catholic and the various non-Catholic religious communities in Italy will be defined when separate agreements come up for revision. These agreements include the Church-state Concordat and agreements between the Church and the Protestant Waldension and Jewish communities which date back to the period 1929-30.

It is expected that Italian Jewish communities in the future will be able to organize separate classes on Judaism on request. The details remain to be defined but the approach is expected to be extended to the grade school as well as the high school level.

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