During the last months has re-emerged the debate over religion classes in Italian schools. The data collected by the National Service for Catholic Education of the CEI1, 88% of the students enrolled in state schools have chosen to attend religion classes. Therefore, it seems that, at the beginning of the school year we are trying to emphasize that attitude which is a bit controversial and which increasingly characterizes Italian society in an effort to discredit the value of the so-called “religion class” in the public eye.
What is it about? These lessons, whose acronym is IRC, are present on the curricula in Italian school due to the Lateran Concordat dating back to 1929, adopted in the article 7 of the Italian Constitution and amended by the Revision Agreement (1984). They were followed by the agreement between MPI2 CEI in 1985 and the most recent Agreement of 2012 between the Ministry and CEI, which has redefined educational indications, organizational arrangements, criteria for the choice of textbooks and profiles of professional qualifications of the teachers.
As it has been acknowledged also by Don Daniel Saottini, Head of National Service for IRC, interviewed by Adriana Masotti for the Vatican Radio, in Italy is certainly increasing the number of students who chose not to follow religion classes: the daily La Repubblica reports that “data concerning access to the classes offered by the Curia vary significantly. In schools in the north of the country, it concerns 72.8 per cent of the members, in the center, 79% while in the south we are talking about 97% of students between 14 and 18 years of age ( …) To not discriminate against anyone, – Tiziana de Giorgio from La Repubblica continues – the historic highschool Aldini Valeriani in Bologna, out of 85 classes, there are 74 in which one would not be able to find more than four names on the Catholic religion teacher’s registry. In many cases, lessons are tete-a-tete.
“Every year we ask for this waste to be avoided – the headmaster Savior Grillo specifies – but the Curia does not allow it”. While “Research on activities alternative to Catholic religion in Bologna schools” carried out by the UAAR circle of Bologna and published on 23 September, asserts that “the data collected by CEI and uncritically accepted by the media, are partial (86.6% of the student population, yearbook 2014) and conducted through the available dioceses (87%, Yearbook 2014), not through data made publicly available by the schools”.
Despite the usefulness of statistics, we believe it is more useful to reflect on IRC’s value on the basis of what concerns religion classes concretely. In many ways it is the only possibility for many children to approach and deal with questions, principles and values of religious culture which are part of the historical heritage, cultural and civil life of the Italian people. Besides, they are offered by people who, today, are required a thorough specific preparation and a concrete life testimony. Teachers are chosen by the diocesan Curia and proposed to the school which, with the agreement of the diocesan Ordinary, signs a contract with them. But this, that is, the reasons for a healthy cultural opportunity, are going to be the topic of a forthcoming article…