An Italian Lent in COVID-19 Lockdown

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua

The spread of COVID-19 in Italy is bringing to the surface various aspects of the country’s popular culture and the role of faith. The rapid contagion that in three weeks has claimed more than 1,000 lives, filled hospitals’ intensive care units, frozen the economy, and forced Italians to stay home, is pushing people to reconsider their priorities and how they pursue them.

For many Italians, staying at home is hard—the stereotype that Italians like socializing turns out to be true. The fear and the experience of deadly diseases are a staple in Italian culture. Paintings of Saint Rocco, the protector from the black plague, are everywhere. Students learn Italian literature of the fourteenth century through reading Boccaccio’s Decameron (a point of reference for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), which revolves around the 1348 black plague in Florence. They know of cholera through the late nineteenth-century novel Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga. But what immediately comes to an Italian’s mind over these past few weeks is Alessandro Manzoni’s masterpiece The Betrothed, a mid-nineteenth century novel that depicts the 1630 black plague in Milan. Students study it so thoroughly that they often come to hate it. The COVID-19 epicenter has been Milan and its surroundings, making the emotional connection with The Betrothed particularly strong. Continue reading “An Italian Lent in COVID-19 Lockdown”

Protecting Religious Freedom from Fear: Italian Lessons on Islam, the Public Sphere, and the Limits of Judicial Review





Post by Andrea Pin, Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua, and Luca Pietro Vanoni, Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law,  University of Milan

The Italian constitutional framework might be of interest for those who reflect on the avenues of religious and social integration in the early 21st century. Though the 1948 Constitution has secured ample religious freedom guarantees for citizens and noncitizens alike, recent years have put increasing pressure on Italian legal infrastructure.

Church and State in Italy: Friends or Foes?

Despite unification succeeded against the will of the Pope in the nineteenth century under the Kingdom of Piedmont, Italy has always been quintessentially Catholic. Even Mussolini boosted his regime by blending Fascism, Italian nationalism, and the national Catholic identity. Italian politics between the 1940s and the 1990s was largely controlled by the Christian Democratic Party. Romans and even off-the-city Italians alike still gather each Sunday to attend the Pope’s address at the twelve o’clock Angelus in Vatican’s St. Peter’s square. Continue reading “Protecting Religious Freedom from Fear: Italian Lessons on Islam, the Public Sphere, and the Limits of Judicial Review”

The Chained Wife Problem: Religious and Secular Perspectives

Dmytro Vovk is Director of the Centre for the Rule of Law and Religion Studies, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion.

In January 2020, it was reported that a Jewish woman in London launched a private prosecution against her ex-husband who had refused to grant her a religious divorce, called a get. Though they were divorced under civil laws, the absence of a religious divorce chained the wife in her marriage and negatively affected her life in the community, primarily by preventing her from remarrying. The woman and her lawyers claimed that the husband’s behavior should be prosecuted under a 2015 law criminalizing “controlling and coercive behavior” as a form of domestic abuse. The threat of criminal conviction convinced the ex-husband to grant the woman the get, and she later revoked her action as a result. Continue reading “The Chained Wife Problem: Religious and Secular Perspectives”