Religion in the Public Arena in Southern Europe: Comparing/Contrasting Italy, Spain and Portugal

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Roberta RICUCCI , University of Torino, Italy
Franco GARELLI , University of Torino, Italy
Observers of religious phenomena often tend to lump together Latin countries with Catholic roots – Italy, Spain and Portugal – excepting France, usually considered a separate case, a model of the secular State and of the society which characterizes it. Perhaps this is because there was in their past an epoch in which Catholicism exercised a hegemonic role in society, based on a quite normative ecclesiastical magisterium, over a widespread national network of parishes and a population totally exposed to clerical influence, after the pattern of militant commitment capable of getting a grip on the most dynamic and vital social sectors. Indeed, the these countries – in which Catholic culture is still prevalent – follow different paths through advanced modernity, and these can be seen in the forms assumed by the relationship between religion and civil society. In Italy, that relationship has in recent decades undergone three key moments which have paradoxically restored the Catholic church and its world to the centre of the public stage. This development was by no means inevitable, as is evidenced by the examples of Spain and Portugal who – although sharing analogous dynamics – have reached outcomes different from those of Italy. Drawing on evidence from an data investigation in the framework of the GERICR (Groupe Européen de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur le Changement Religieux)project, the paper compares (and contrasts) three Southern European countries by analysing the evolution of the relations between religion and public sphere.