Advances in Applied Sociology
2012. Vol.2, No.2, 89-94
Published Online June 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Religious Practice among Italian Youth: A Case Study in Lazio
Lucio Meglio
Department of Social Science, University of Cassino, Cassino, Italy
Received February 21st, 2012; revised March 18th, 2012; accepted April 5th, 2012
The purpose of this article will be to highlight, through a case study of the Lazio region of Italy to the
south of Rome, of the changing role of religion in Western Europe according to recent analyses that have
been carried out on the relationship between religion and identity among young people, and the relation-
ship between family structure and composition and religious practices. These issues have also been the
topic of discussion among Catholic and Protestant groups in the different member countries and have
been a controversial topic in the approval of the European Constitutional Treaty. These issues will be as-
sessed in light of the different meanings of religion in non-European countries, especially in the context of
underdevelopment in Africa, where there is not a sharp distinction between religious loyalty and civil so-
ciety. Belonging to one religion or another tends to affect different types of political and economic loyal-
ties, whereas these are maintained as separate spheres of life in Europe due to its heritage of prolonged
civil and religious wars. The article will conclude by pointing out the strong potential for renovation that
is implicit in religion—a renovation of values and styles of everyday life that seems to be urgent and ne-
cessary to face many dilemmas and problems of contemporary Western life. In this respect, a case will be
made that religion can help better than politics and political movements to overcome difficulties and re-
sistances in the necessary adaptation to changing environmental and economic conditions.
Keywords: Italian Youth; Religious Practice; Values; Generation
Youngsters and Religious Practice: Theoretical
If lay, or broadly secularized, societies are currently referred
to in many European countries, reference to the Catholic reli-
gion in Italy is still very much diffused. For more than thirty
years this same religious universe has been re-proposed, even
though elements of extreme decline have been registered. This
factor is even more apparent in a universe in which new reli-
gious movements are expressed in unusual and syncretic forms,
but it also appears within the Catholic ecclesiastical context.
Nonetheless the internal articulation of beliefs, meanings and
religious practices appears to be rather jagged. Even more so if
an attempt is made to investigate the religion and religious
practices of the younger generations. In Italy, national and local
research has shown how high levels of adhesion to Catholicism
can be found in the population of youngsters, a figure that
documents how the religion of prior generations is still a very
important cultural reference in this country even for younger
cohorts (Garelli, Guizzardi, & Pace, 2003). Despite this, on
many occasions, nominal affiliation does not follow through
consistently in expected practices. The topic “youngsters and
religious practice” is therefore a vital element of study and
investigation in order to understand what some authors have
defined as the “brainteaser” of Italian secularization (Diotallevi,
The sociological meaning of the words “youngsters” or
“youth” is not an entirely clear one. Who are these people?
Why do many studies limit the field of investigation exclu-
sively to this portion of the population? From a biological point
of view, there are no difficulties whatsoever in limiting the
beginning of “youth” to the entrance into puberty, with regards
to its conclusion, however, no similarly clear term exists to
create discussion for post-adolescent (or interminably ado-
lescent) persons. Moving onto discussions related to the social
sciences, it is easy to see how the difficulties in providing a
clear and unique definition increase drastically. “Adolescence”
becomes a highly fluid concept, with indefinable boundaries
and characteristics (Merico, 2005). A social researcher who
plans to approach this area of study should take into conside-
ration three characteristics: the complexity of the conditions of
youngsters, the persistence across the years of typical charac-
teristics of youngsters, and the continuation of exploratory
methods of action on the part of this segment of the population.
Youth is a phase of life whose definition varies in time and
according to different cultures. Many factors are included in
this topic such as those of a biological, psychological and social
nature. Youth is a temporary condition that “gradually marks
the abandoning of typical roles of adolescence and the contem-
porary undertaking of functions and competences of the adult
life” (Buzzi, Cavalli, & de Lillo, 2007). Beginning after World
War II and continuing to the present, lifespan has extended
dramatically in the West, with a subsequent dilation in the time
designated for “youth,” with the anticipation of puberty at the
start and delay of insertion into the adult world as the period
extends. During the last century, forty-year olds were con-
sidered old; today fifty-year olds are still young.
As a result, “youth” does not mean from a social point of
view, only those born in the same year, as stated by Karl
Mannheim (1952), the first author to provide a sociological
definition to the concept of generation and the consequent so-
cial unction of youth. Youngsters are those with a generational
bond, created when “real social and spiritual contents form a
real bond between individuals in the same generational group in
the field of old and new” (Zurla, 1999). The first consequence
of the extension of youth was the continuation of an economi-
cally nonproductive phase of new generations. Youngsters enter
the world of employment at a later stage. The period of univer-
sity studies is longer, and many Italian youngsters tend to move
away from home at a later date compared with their European
colleagues. In some cases the extension of adolescence creates
a form of social absence of responsibility in a growing number
of youngsters, often stable in a situation not so much of free-
dom but of marginalization. It is also true to say that the current
employment and social situation in Italy does not help young-
sters in reducing the postponement of phases from childhood to
adulthood. In the last decades, the general level of production
of jobs in Italy been well below the availability of works,
therefore creating “high and chronic acts of unemployment in
youngsters, for which easy solutions cannot be seen as a real
economic model of development has been found without the
creation of new jobs” (Donati & Colozzi, 1997). If on the one
hand this creates a condition of discomfort and uncertainty,
especially in the higher age groups, on the other hand it does
not lead to a gradual dejection of the faith of youngsters in the
future. The majority of young Italians claim that they are happy
with their lives, and if they wait even longer before moving
away from home, the reason in the majority of cases is the
growing level of independence and freedom that new genera-
tions currently have within the home context compared with to
of the past.
To what extent, then, can we speak of the existence or non-
existence of a youth culture (or subculture), in contrast to or
interpenetration with that of an adult culture? The expansion in
time of youth has not only resulted in an increase in the number
of individuals belonging to this demographic group but also a
qualitative differentiation from a cultural point of view. If dur-
ing the 1970s this difference reached its highest peak, now on
the one hand some authors tend to focus on a growing inter-
penetration among various lifestyles, ways of thinking and
behaving on the part adults coinciding with those of youngsters,
with a subsequent dissolution of “youth culture” and a progres-
sive alignment of both lifestyles (Donati & Colozzi, 1997). On
the other hand, some authors speak of a huge fissure that has
opened up between the generations, due to the amount of in-
come available to youngsters and their increasing mastery in
the use of new technologies. On the other hand, Alessandro
Cavalli (Cavalli, 2007) argues that no sign of generational con-
flicts currently exists. On the contrary, in some cases young-
sters defend the status quo. There is no doubt that a youth life-
style exists that is characterized by truly unusual cultural as-
pects such as, for example, methods of communication (e.g.,
the language used in text messages) or the creative use of new
technologies, but this does not mean that the adult world does
not know how to dialogue or does not try to adapt to these
transformations, that the two realities are not united or that they
clash. On the contrary, they communicate and dialogue in a
relationship of reciprocity. From these discussions, we can
understand how difficult it is in the social sciences to provide a
substantive definition of youth and youth culture. The processes
of psychosocial growth are positioned beyond rigid biological
layouts, and the social scientist must analyze and interpret this
fluidity in order to i llustrate the characteristic s, transformations
and contradictions.
The concept of religious practice itself is similarly in flux.
On the one hand, practice is one of the five dimensions of re-
ligiosity. If religion is, in reality, a range of “beliefs and feel-
ings of all kinds related to relations of man with a human being
whose nature is considered above his own” (Durkheim, 1912),
religiousness consequently refers to the empirically observable
concrete forms through which individuals and groups express
the various dimensions of religion itself. The multidimensional
aspect of the term, due to the various possibilities of expression
of the religious dimensions, logically follows. Various forms of
religiousness, deriving from culture and from the forms pro-
posed by the religious institutions, are generated from human
methods of acquainting the self with the divine exist within
every religion.
In the research discussed in this article, attention has been
focused on the dimension of the religious practice, specifically
the in the younger generation. The French sociologist Gabriel
Le Bras in his Etudes de sociologie religieuse states that “prac-
tice expresses the life of a church” (Le Bras, 1955). In time,
every religious institution has created “ritual” requirements that
followers must observe so that their adhesion to belief is visible
and controllable. Every religion includes, on the one hand, a
whole series of beliefs, and on the other hand a certain number
of practices or, anthropologically speaking, rituals. As Radcliffe
Brown has suggested in an attempt to understand a religion we
should start by concentrating our attention on rituals rather than
beliefs (Brown, 1952). It is in practice that individuals expe-
rience the level of collective compulsion that the much more
broader social-religious context can implement. Taking part in
a collective ritual stimulates a feeling of identification with the
community of belonging, common values are shared, and we
feel a part of the same destiny (Cazeneuve, 1971). The “so-
cial-graphical” study of measuring religious practice therefore
considers the latter as a “synthetic expression of vitality of the
ritual and of the myth, therefore indirectly of everything that is
sacred, and as one of the criteria of analysis of the religious
vitality of a population” (Acquavivia, 1981). As far as Gabriel
Le Bras is concerned, if we ignore “the number of followers,
the places of cult, the participants [...] study of the doctrine will
have a reduced effect, but the study of social groups and social
relations risks getting lost in something that is abstract. Reli-
gious statistics provide us with an opportunity for an alliance
between exact science and human science” (Le Bras, 1955).
The majority of classical texts of sociological thought on reli-
gion have also attributed a strong symbolic and aggregative
value to rituals and connected practices. “In the ritual, the lived
world and the imaginative world, joined together by means of a
single series of symbolic forms, are the same world, therefore
an idiosyncratic transformation of reality is created” (Geertz,
1973). The same beliefs and religious practices find their origin
in the “effervescence” of everyday contacts between men and
being a cognitive and expressive representation of social rela-
tions they form a collective conscience.
All of this has undergone a clear transformation with the ad-
vent of the modern secularized societies. Religious practice has
undergone a drastic re-dimensioning, especially in Europe. In
particular, the abandonment of churches increases proportion-
ally with the increase in age of the individuals; from a very high
level of practice in pre-adolescents we can move onto a quick
and often drastic abandonment in the years immediately after.
Throughout the years this phenomenon has led researchers and
the ecclesiastical hierarchies to ask themselves several ques-
tions such as: Is the fall in religious practice in youngsters a
sign of a religious experience whose contents are weak? Is the
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
increase in the number of abandonments of religious practice an
alarm of the end of the religious message within the society?
Only facts can answer these questions. There is no doubt that
frequency at religious activities, especially by youngsters, has
undergone a form of re-dimensioning across the years, but it is
clear to everybody that religion, especially in the case of Italy,
is far from dead. The reduction in practice does not automati-
cally lead to a loss in religiousness of a society; the methods of
understanding participation in celebration s have simply changed:
They are no longer seen as duties that are coercively defined by
a hierarchy, but they become behaviors of participation and
communion only for those who intend to express openly their
belonging to a church. If, on the one hand, the picture of going
to church as a sign of conformism, especially in small districts
where going to mass on a Sunday is an integral part of being a
“good boy” because “otherwise people will talk” is still alive
among the elderly, it no longer exists in new generations. Ne-
vertheless, despite the fact that some still proclaim the end of
religion, basing their discussions on the decline of practice, “the
religious dimension survives in the context of a secularized
society, it still produces a practice and is still related to the
collectivity of believers: and this happens in a totally unex-
pected manner compared with the historical inclination of reli-
gious practice constantly falling with the progress of lay beliefs
in conscience and individualism of behaviors” (Abbruzzese,
The Participation of Youngsters in Religious
Practices in an Italian Province
The Context and Conditions of the Research
The religiousness of youngsters has been the subject of much
national research in Italy, from which it has emerged how
young Italians express their faith by emphasizing their interior,
personal and emotional dimensions within their participation in
practices and group activities. Nevertheless, due to historical
and cultural reasons, Italy internally consists of a varied territo-
rial reality. The Central-Southern area has not abandoned its
traditions and customs that are still passed down from one ge-
neration to another. It is not by chance, for example, that the
number of civil weddings is higher in the North than in the
South. Being a youngster in Milan is not the same as being a
youngster in Naples or Rome. The research was conducted in
the central Italian region: Lazio. In the last fifteen years the
Lazio region has undergone a transition from a local-provincial
context to a globalized context. The terminal that connects the
territory of central Italy to the rest of the world is city of Rome.
This city, being both historical and sacred, has been trans-
formed into an exchange point of the global economy. The
same strengthening of airports of Rome similarly increased
proportionately to create space for the constant ongoing traffic
of passengers, represents concrete proof of the presence of a
global terminal. Not all areas of the Lazio region are in the
same conditions, however. In this region the population in-
cludes two extremes: marginalization in the area of the Apen-
nines, where old traditions still exist, even though Italian she-
pherds in this area are now replaced by Albanian shepherds,
right up to the Roman area where the emergency due to popula-
tion influx is permanent also from a sanitary point of view,
such as the Esquilino. In these two territorial realities, espe-
cially after the Second World War, on the one hand, an intense
process of modernization occurred, especially behind the large
roads of communication coinciding with the major centers of
the provinces, on the other hand, the smaller centers, in par-
ticular those such as Frosinone behind the chain of the Apenni-
nes, have gone through a high level of emigration with the
gradual emptying of town centers in which the air of a small
ancient world can still be breathed.
The study was conducted at the provincial area to the South
of Rome: the provinces of Frosinone and Latina. A number of
methodologies were implemented to suit the inductive and
multi-indicator approach of the study. The design and methods
are summarized briefly; a detailed description is available else-
where (Meglio, 2010). The study involving a sample of 1225
youngsters and young adults between 14 and 35 years of age.
The investigations carried out are quantitative, and the survey
was carried out directly and anonymously, using trained inter-
viewers. Respondents completed self-report surveys (using a
paper-and-pencil format) administered by the author and trained
graduate students in school during school hours (for the stu-
dents interviewed). All adolescents received parental permis-
sion to participate. Religion, as treated here, is a multidimen-
sional construct consisting of attitudinal (i.e., importance), be-
havioral (i.e., church attendance), and organizational (i.e., af-
filiation) components. Below will expose only the data related
to religious practice.
If on the one hand, the ecclesiastical hierarchies note the
need to emphasize the importance of participation in Sunday
mass, data on the presence of youngsters in the lower Lazio
region confirm the national and European trend. Twenty-seven
percent of all people interviewed go to Sunday mass; the plu-
rality, 48.6%, confirm that they go to Church only on holy days
and special occasions such as weddings, baptisms and other
ceremonies. Twelve percent, not an excessively low figure,
declare that they go to Church more than once a week, while
10% never go to Church. If we compare these data with na-
tional research carried out by the IARD Institute of Milan we
can see that the figures are not so different, in this case 17.2%
of all youngsters interviewed go to Church every Sunday.
Therefore, the trend that sees young Italians going to Sunday
mass less and less is confirmed. Catholic church-goers are re-
placed by “anonymous Catholics”—that is to say, the trend is to
take part less and less in religious ceremonies, while people
make contact with everything sacred and religious in a personal
and intimate manner. As far as gender differences are con-
cerned, we can see how girls are much more involved in reli-
gious phenomenon, a larger number of them take part in Sun-
day mass compared with boys, who register a much lower level
of participation in Sunday mass, perhaps only on special occa-
sions. Figures on Sunday participation are also confirmed by
the answers given to the question on participation in rites
(Christmas, Easter) of their own religion—23.3% replied al-
ways, 28.5% often, 33.7% (the majority) every now and again,
and 14.3% never.
The subject of religious practice has always included the
commitment of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In a recent public
audience Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to partici-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 91
pate in Sunday mass. In Catholic doctrine, Sunday is the day
that Christians meet together to proclaim their faith and feed on
the Word of God and the Eucharist. Without participation in the
Table of Faith and the Table of the Eucharist, there is no chance
that the Church will survive. Sunday is the day that the Church
stands out. The first Christians used to meet on Sunday, as can
be seen from the following words: “On the first day of the week
we used to meet up to break the bread” (Acts 20:7). It was not a
one-off meeting but a habit that had become a tradition. The
ecclesiastic hierarchies are therefore very well aware of the
reduction in Sunday practice between the population and the
followers, especially among the new generations. Sundays have
become days that are not so different from other days of the
week. A sense of Sunday and its vital importance for Christian
life is experienced by participants in the liturgy, but it is less the
case that these participants and the civil community are one.
Religious participation does not end with going or not going to
church on Sunday. Life inside the church is articulated in va-
rious moments, groups and associations in which the partici-
pants share with those next to them, experiences of aggregation
and the sharing of common values. Once religion has been
institutionalized, it becomes an organization with internal rules
and structures that punctuate life and in which processes of
formation and legitimization of the symbolic contents are
passed down from one generation to another. The religious
organizations become complex networks through which the
experience and religious actions are formed, structured and
sustained across time, if the religious experience is an imme-
diate and deep experience in which God appears to be present
in the soul, in which the eruption of divinity is experienced in-
ternally or in the community; inevitably the organization is the
second moment, the moment of mediation of that experience.
Throughout the years many associations or groups of Catho-
lic inspiration have been formed with the objective of favoring
hospitality, integration and religious socialization of youngsters
from a very young age. Oratorians are an example. Named from
the Latin word orare (prayer), they were born as small areas of
cultus where followers met for group prayer. It was St. Philip
Neri in 1550 who founded the first modern oratory, whose ob-
jective was to create a community of believers joined by a spirit
of human charity. It was with St. John Bosco (1853) that groups
among youngsters were created. The oratory became an arena
for religious life as well as human interaction and training. The
model was extended to the local parishes, where alongside the
formal liturgies of the Church, small meeting areas were cre-
ated for youngsters.
The most ancient and diffused lay Catholic association in
Italy is Catholic Action. Born following the initiative of two
university students in 1867 with the name of “Society of Catho-
lic Youth,” throughout the years the association grew rapidly
and was diffused among parishes throughout Italy, from the
North to the South. In principle it was divided into male and
female sections, though this division was eliminated through
the years. The motto “Prayer, Action, Sacrifice” summarizes
loyalty to the various Catholics of the universal Church. In
1919 a group of the Catholic association founded the commu-
nity of Boy Scouts in Italy. Founded in 1907 in England by
Robert Baden-Powell, the Scouts represent a young worldwide
movement, with the declared objective of educating youngsters
and helping them in their physical, mental and spiritual deve-
lopment. It was born in Italy following a Catholic initiative, and
it currently has almost 177,000 members. Other religious vo-
luntary activity groups also exist, such as Caritas, present in all
diocesan locations and aimed at helping the less well-off or the
physically disabled and catechesis activities that every parish
offers to children along their religious growth. Therefore a net-
work of groups and associations form the organizational “ma-
chine” of the Church as a community for prayer, help and so-
cialization: “the Catholic movement is therefore configured as
an answer to marginality in which modern society has confined
the religious institution” (Abbruzzese, 1991). “In which of these
activities do the youngsters of the Lazio region take part?” is
another question that has been asked in this investigation. The
figures are not too encouraging (Table 1).
Participation in these activities is very low and obviously of
a female predominance, Catholic Action registers 15.3% of
participants and catechism 11.9%, the figure that refers to
youngsters who follow the course for the sacrament of Confir-
mation. Even though the figures are not entirely unexpected, in
reality it contrasts against the territorial heritage, considering
most of all the realities of the town, where life substantially
rotates around the parish community, perhaps having lost at-
traction with regard to new generations.
In order to investigate this figure in greater detail—in par-
ticular, in an attempt to understand the reasons that lie at the
basis of participation or lack of participation in these activities,
the question was asked, “What led you to become a part of a
religious group or association?” The plurality of youth who
take part in these activities have stated that friendship is the
most important reason for their inclusion in these groups. Se-
condarily they were stimulated by their religious belief (Table
Therefore, being in the company of friends is the main rea-
son that motivates youngsters to take part in the activities of
these associations. In towns that do not have much to offer in
Table 1.
In which of this activities do you take part?
Activities Yes (%) No (%) Total
Oratory 9.9 90.1 100.0
Catholic action 15.3 84.7 100.0
Catechism 11.9 88.1 100.0
Caritas 8.9 91,1 100.0
Scouting 6.0 94.0 100.0
Table 2.
Reasons for participation in religious groups.
Reasons Responses (%)
Friendship 23.3
Escape from the family 3.0
Loneliness 2.1
Need to act on a social level 9.2
Investigate i nto faith re lated problems 6.7
Form a personality 6.1
Experience 8.7
Religious belief 13.0
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
terms of pleasure, getting together in groups or associations is
the only place for them to socialize.
The survey carried out in the lower area of the Lazio region,
even with the methodological limits previously indicated, has
allowed us to identify, through the analysis of religious practice,
some important aspects of the religious orientation of the new
generations of this territory. The Catholic religion remains the
most important confession due to historical, social and cultural
reasons. Faith alone is not in discussion. Contrary to those who
state the disappearance of the religion from modern society, it
is still alive and present. Obviously this does not mean that
there have not been changes in the dynamics of destruction/re-
building of belief. Religious institutions are going through a
period of constant crisis, as can be seen from figures on practice
and participation in community rituals. The churches are seen
as the guardians of large common values, in which everybody
recognizes himself or herself. The theories on cultural rela-
tivism are contradicted. In terms of value it is not true to say
that everyone can have his or her own personal opinion, Com-
mon values exist that are given by tradition and are commonly
accepted, but beyond the ethical-cultural function the Church is
excluded from the most intimate and personal sphere of each
individual moral actor. Using the words of Boudon (Boudon,
2002), the pre-concept principles are no longer used in an un-
conditional manner, but they are used by re-modeling them,
discussing their validity before using them.
Religion in Italian society is not dead. On the contrary it is
very much alive, present and alert. Like a liquid that pours into
a solid object and models itself according to the shape, religion
has been capable of modeling according to the great and con-
stant transformations that “late modernity” has provided to the
life of each individual. The new generations have powered this
transformation despite the difficulties of youngsters in Italy,
with their problems and discomforts, with their undeniable
resources and potentials, with the questions and doubts con-
stantly asked. These difficulties cannot be attributed to deep
changes that may have occurred within the society in the last
few decades. The advent of new technologies and forced mo-
dernization have generated drastic changes with consequences
on current mentalities and lifestyles. As far as “thinking” is
concerned, it is important to point out that with the fall of the
grand narratives that occurred recently, so-called “weak”
thought has become more and more important, with the new
generations representing privileged victims. This is the society
of the image, of appearance, where commitment for reflection
and thought has been overcome by a totalistic use of the com-
puter. The constant flow of images and sounds arouses strong
emotions. Youth “freak out” during long nights in discos. They
meet on Facebook, but they lose the pleasure of getting lost in a
real smile (Meglio, 2010).
Once the strong experience is over, once the computer has
been turned off, then we realize that there is a guest always
present in the life of youngsters: solitude. At this point many
questions arise for themselves, on the world, on society: it is at
this time that we realize that nobody is there to provide answers.
At this point the problem of communication between the ge-
nerations arises. Communication problems between parents and
children are very frequent by both sides, and this is not due
only to the clear age gap, but also to the consequent incapacity
of authentic communication that can embrace the inevitable
differences. On the one hand, the search is for lifestyles that are
closer to personal ones; on the other hand, youngsters tend to
remain at home due to the undisputed eco n o m ic b e n ef i t s .
This picture, even though it is realistic, has highlighted the
negative elements present within the current universe of young-
sters. Luckily positive elements also exist. In many cases the
total absence of values in today's youngsters can be found. By
observing them and entering their world, there are very few
positive signals, but they stimulate an optimistic hope for the
future; it is important to simply accept and enhance them. This
is basically what emerged from the various Italian surveys. First,
there is a diffused demand for defence with regards to the va-
lues that form society: attachment to the land of origin, innate
generosity and opening up toward new cultures, highlighting
solidarity that is not aware of barriers, and finally a request for
“freedom” understood as the ability for self-realization through
personal potentials (Meglio, 2011). Once again, the family
remains the first agency of religious socialization. Almost all
infants have a familiarization with religion; as the years pass
religious beliefs tend to disappear—but not in terms of a refusal
or doubting of vital values, but postponement for a later stage
of life where contact with the transcendent acquires greater
meaning. Despite the secularization process that for half a cen-
tury has ratified within Italian society the marginality of every-
thing that is sacred, as broadly shown in various surveys, the
youngsters of the Lazio region confirm that they are believers.
Obviously it is one thing to claim to be religious, while it is
another thing to claim to be a “religious person,” attentive to
following their religious beliefs through a lifestyle. Scholars
speak of the “interiorization” of religious beliefs: Creed is
transformed from public to private. Relationships with every-
thing that is sacred assume a spiritual and subjective nature
(Luckmann, 1963). “Do-it-yourself” religion has been born, with-
out necessarily being subject to norms and obligations deriving
from a religious institution. These could almost be defined as
“anonymous Catholics,” meaning that they state that they are
believers and belong to the “official” religion, but they pray and
they are totally anonymous in their belief. Figures on practice
in our case also confirm the national trend—therefore a drastic
fall in participation in rituals, especially on Sundays: the “con-
trolled” feasts still survive.
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