Global News Blog-Cultural Controversy in Italy

December 6, 2010  

Posted by Leela Harpur

The most difficult controversy is one that struggles with opposing morals and challenges deeply rooted, traditional, cultural beliefs. It is almost impossible at times to reach an agreement and groups must “agree to disagree” and reach a compromise.

A look at Italy’s culture shows a rich, traditional history of Catholicism. According to BBC News, Italy is 96 percent Catholic. Inside Rome, Italy’s capital, is the sovereign city-state, Vatican City. Saint Peters Basilica, where the Pope resides, is one of the core symbols of the Catholic faith.

According to Shane Dayton’s “Top 10 Places of Worship in the World,” it says, “The home of Catholicism, and technically even its own nation, the Vatican is home to the official residence of the pope, the famous Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica of St. Peter. The basilica is thought to be the largest religious building of any kind in the world, and this tourist attraction draws Catholics and non-Catholics alike to its beauty, as upwards of 15 million a year or more come to visit, hoping for an experience with the divine.”

Although the baptism rate continues to be high, congregation numbers as well as the numbers of people taking religious orders has decreased considerably. The Italian culture seems to be torn between a tradition of Catholicism and a modern lifestyle that does not include practicing the religion. The older generation is still quite attached to the church while the younger generation, although still Catholic, is practicing less and less. This is key in realizing the ever-growing tension related to religion in Italy. The history of this tension is important to know in order to better understand the conflicts that have arisen from it.

One example of such a conflict is the country’s view on contraception. There is a great divide between traditional Catholics and a new generation of Catholics. The first believing abstinence should be taught and the latter believing sexual education is important to prevent aids and teen pregnancies. As James Drane explains, “In traditional Catholic moral teachings, contraceptives were considered essentially evil because they undermined the nature of sexuality which was seen as essentially procreative.” Mr. Drane also goes on to explain how Pope Benedict XVI’s recent comment about how condom use is sometimes justified sparked major conflict among conservative Catholics. As stated previously, some of the more conservative Catholics believe the use of condoms is evil and therefore it is natural that the Pope’s comment would cause negative reactions.

In March, a high school in Rome made the decision to put Condom vending machines on campus. The purpose was to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of aids. The school’s plan to install 6 of these vending machines has caused an uproar in the city. The Mayor believes the school is sending the wrong message to youth while the Catholic Church iwww.sms accusing the school of supporting sexual activity. The following quote, found in an article by Alessandra Rizzo, shows the deep cultural divide, “The newspaper, L’Avvenire, lamented that young people these days have no spiritual guidance on sexuality, and that educators are more concerned with ‘the health and hygiene consequences of sex’ than its moral implications.”

This quote shows that this cannot be made into a matter of who is “right” and who is “wrong” because the issues will never be resolved. It must be understood that there is a core difference in the moral beliefs of the country and that a compromise must be reached. The situation must be looked at from an unbiased view. It is true that the only 100 percent certain form of contraception is abstinence. It is also true that abstinence helps prevent aids. Logically this makes sense. At the same time, it is true that if people chose to be sexually active and do not use contraception they are more likely to get pregnant as well as spread the disease. Although there are still many cultural beliefs that would counter the following argument, it seems the only fair way to proceed in a divided country would be to allow both sides fair opportunity to promote their views.

In order to respect the traditional side abstinence should be taught as the first and most effective form of birth control and disease avoidance. Next, if people choose to go against traditional beliefs and be sexually active before marriage, then contraception should be taught to avoid disease and pregnancy. Although there is not a clear way to make both sides completely happy, they should work together to create a plausible compromise.

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  1. Levels of Knowledge « Earthpages.ca on December 15th, 2010 10:50 am

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