Religion in Italy

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Religion in Italy (2006)
No religion

Religion in Italy is characterised by the predominance of Christianity and, more specifically, the Catholic Church.

According to the 2012 Global Religious Landscape survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 83.3% of Italy's residents are Christians, 12.4% are irreligious, atheist or agnostic, 3.7% are Muslims and the remaining 0.6% adhere to other religions.[1] According to a 2006 survey by Eurispes, Catholics made up 87.8% of the population, with 36.8% describing themselves as observants.[2] According to the same poll in 2010, those percentages fell to 76.5% and 24.4%, respectively.[3] Other sources give different accounts of Italy's Islamic population, usually around 2%.[4][5][6]

According to the 2005 Eurobarometer poll, 74% of Italians responded that they "believe there is a God", 16% that they "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 6% that they "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".[7]

Religious practice is still high Italy, whether compared to the average European country. The Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) found in 2010 that 32.0% of the population went to church or to another house of worship weekly. The share of practising believers was higher in Southern (39.5%) and Insular Italy (36.9%) than the North-West (30.4%), the North-East (28.6%) and the Centre (25.4%). Religious practice was particularly high in Trentino (36.6%) and Veneto (35.1%), once dubbed "white Veneto" because of Christian Democracy's strenght there, in the North-East, Marche (35.5%) in the Centre and Campania (43.4%), Apulia (40.3%), Sicily (40.2%), Molise (37.8%) and Calabria (35.2%) in the South, while being particularly low in Aosta Valley (21.7%), Liguria (22.9%) and the so-called "red regions" (long-time strongholds of the left, from the Italian Communist Party to the current Democratic Party), especially Tuscany (21.5%) and Emilia-Romagna (21.7%).[8][9]

Massimo Introvigne, founder and director of CESNUR, an Italian think tank devoted to religious studies, and main author of L'enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia, predicts that, thanks to immigration from Eastern Europe, Orthodox Christians will grow to soon become the second largest religious group, passing Muslims. Also Protestantism, especially in its Pentecostal and evangelical forms, is on the rise: Introvigne recalls how Giorgio Bouchard, a Waldensian pastor, told him that "when he was born the typical Italian Protestant was a man, lived in Piedmont, had a last name like Bouchard and was Waldensian", while "today the typical Italian Protestant believer is a woman, lives in Campania or Sicily, is named Esposito and is a Pentecostal."[10]

According to Caritas Italiana, in 2010 the immigrant population was 53.9% Christian, 32.9% Muslim, 2.6% Hindu and 1.9% Buddhist.[11] According to the same source, in 2010 Italy was home to 850 "African Neo-Pentecostal churches", 750 foreign-language Catholic communities, 655 mosques or houses of worship, 355 Orthodox parishes, 126 Buddhist temples, 37 Sikh ones and 2 Hindu ones.[12] The Mosque of Rome is Europe's largest.[13]


A Catholic church in Venice
A Protestant church in Bordighera
The synagogue of Florence

This is a scheme of the religious composition of Italian population (58,751,711 – 2006, estimated):

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Corriere della Sera - Italia, quasi l'88% si proclama cattolico
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  7. ^ ReportDGResearchSocialValuesEN2.PDF
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  14. ^ Italy, Statistics by Diocese, by Catholic Population [Catholic-Hierarchy]
  15. ^ a b c d Caritas Dossier Immigrazione 2007
  16. ^ Chiesa Evangelica Valdese - Unione delle chiese Metodiste e Valdesi
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  20. ^ "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-30.