How the Catholic Church Influences Italian Politics
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The Catholic Church has a unique relationship with Italy, with the location of the Vatican in the heart of Rome. From the time of the Italian unification in 1861, the Catholic Church has used different strategies to influence Italian politics. From boycotting Italian politics through the Non Expedit in 1874, to influencing politics through the Partito Popolare Italiano from 1919, collaborating with the Fascist regime from the 1920s, and the very influential cooperation with the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) in the post-war era. Following the Tangentopoli and the fall of the First Republic, it was no longer possible for the Catholic Church to influence politics through the DC. New strategies were needed. The objective of this thesis is to find out which strategies the Catholic Church has used, with an emphasis on the period after the First Republic. My research question is as follows: “How has the Catholic Church pursued various strategies to influence Italian politics, with an emphasis on the period after the fall of the First republic?” To answer the research question, I have conducted qualitative document analysis. The theoretical framework is based on theories which comprise the influence of the Catholic Church, and religious organizations as a whole, on politics, religious organizations, and how churches can use popular referendums to affect politics. The findings indicate that the Catholic Church no longer exerts influence through one Christian democratic party, but that Catholic politicians are spread across all parties. In this way, Catholic values can be included in party politics, regardless of whether the party is on the Leftwing, Rightwing, or center. Catholic organizations have played an important role in exerting influence on Italian politics on behalf of the Catholic Church. Especially through the organizations Comunione e Liberazione, and the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana. When facing a popular referendum in 2005, the Catholic Church encouraged its adherents to abstain from voting. In this way, the vote did not reach the minimum requirement of 50 percent voter turnout, for the vote to be valid. The Pope, bishops, and clergy were active in encouraging the adherents of the Catholic Church. This occurred to a much higher degree than when facing popular referendums in the past. Some would claim that the Catholic Church has left the party for the pulpit, and to some degree this is true.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
SubjectVaticanBerlusconiCatholic ChurchItalyCatholicismRuiniProdicase studyqualitative methodcomparative analysis
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