Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Church Seeks Italian Recognition, Sponsorship
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The LDS Church recently started the process to
become a "concordate" or state-sponsored church in Italy. If successful, the
effort would not only gain the Church a little money from the Italian
government, like other churches recognized by the Italian government, but
also raise its profile in the country.
Under the Italian system, the government provides financing to Italian
churches through a religion levy. Italian taxpayers indicate what religion
they support on tax forms, and the government provides the funds to the
Church indicated. Those that don't have a religion can indicate a state
charity or leave the box blank.
To be listed on the tax form, Churches must be designated a "concordate" by
the government, a designation that began with a treaty that Mussolini signed
with the Roman Catholic Church, a relationship maintained after World War
II. In 1984, the government extended the recognition to other Churches,
including Waldensians and Methodists (which merged), Baptists, Seventh-day
Adventists, Lutherans, Jews, and the Pentecostals of the Assemblies of God.
The Italian government added the Italian Buddhist Union and the Jehovah's
Witnesses earlier this year.
But the process requires that the agreement be approved by the Italian
Constitutional Commission and by both houses of the Italian Parliament.
Massimo Introvigne told the Salt Lake Tribune that while the LDS Church,
which claims just 17,000 members in Italy, wouldn't receive much money from
the recognition, it would be important symbolically. "It's like becoming a
member of an elite club," said Introvigne.
Salt Lake Attorney Michael Homer thinks that the Church is a good candidate,
"Mormons were among the first religious groups to proselytize in Italy after
the 1848 revolutions. They were also present before all the other
concordates except Waldensians and Jews," Homer told the Salt Lake Tribune.
"Given this strong historical tradition and since there is very little
anti-Mormon sentiment in Italy, the church makes a good concordate candidate."
Italy is one of several European countries that support religion with taxes.
Germany also has a similar requirement, but exempts nonreligious citizens.
LDS Church Wants to Be Official in Italy
Salt Lake Tribune 9Sep00 N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune