- The bio-testament, euthanasia and the right to life
The debate opened at the beginning of 2007 ago by Piergiorgio Welby and his plea to have the machines sustaining him turned off. After a lengthy political debate, a doctor declared himself ready to assist him. Once the machines were turned off Doctor Mario Riccio, an anaesthetist, sedated the patient. The Italian Criminal Court of Rome immediately had to file a criminal incrimination against the doctor, accused of assisting a human being to commit suicide. On the 1st of February the Criminal Court found Mario Riccio not guilty, since the patient has a right to refuse a certain therapy, and the doctor has the duty to assist him in this choice. The sentence of the court has a deep impact on the Italian debate, with no clear laws on the subject in the Italian legal system, thus giving the courts the burden to create a minimum of rules on the subject.
- New law regarding the family
In the last months the government has tried to pass a reform so to permit a similar acknowledgement to couples not legally married. The opposition and the Roman Catholic Church declared this reform against all the ethic and religious principles of the Italian State, calling for a protest march called Family Day, which took place the 13th of May 2007. Given the high number of participants the new law, that wanted to give equal rights both to homosexual couples and non-married ones, was withdrawn.
- 8 per mille
On La Repubblica (one of the major Italian news papers, which has a series of ongoing enquires regarding financial aids to the Church) the 3rd of October an enquiry regarding the "8 per mille" was published. The so called "8 per mille" is the tax percentage that a citizen can devolve to religious congregations or the state in his tax declaration. The distribution system, unknown to many Italians, has been clearly disclosed from the newspaper. The total amount of the devolved money is proportionally divided between the religious organization that have access to this institute. In this way more then half of the total amount is given to the Catholic Church. Two aspects are particularly criticized by La Repubblica : the tax forms in which the beneficiary is not clearly declared are grouped, and the total amount is again proportionally devolved, thus again the highest percentage goes to the Roman Catholic Church. The second thing is the way the money is used. It is possible in Italy for the religious institutes to advertise themselves for the 8 per mille, because of the high costs, only the Catholic Church manages to do this. In these advertisement it is stated that the money devolved will help the cause of the missionaries in Africa, or go to help the Italian poor. What instead happens is that not more of the 20% of the total amount (around 980.000 euro per year) goes in assistance, the remaining 80% stays within the ecclesiastical framework.
- The European Commission examines the religious confessions’ tax benefits.
The way the European Commission asked the Italian Government details concerning the tax benefits provided by the Italian State to the various religious confessions was vigorously criticized on Wednesday 29 August. This is a controversial issue in a country where the Catholic Church possesses 100 000 buildings which are worth 8 to 9 billion Euros. The plaintiffs referred to Brussels which is trying to find out whether the Italian clergy’s real estate tax exemptions for some of its activities (catering, accommodation) and its 50 % discount on professional tax in its schools and hospitals constitute unfair competition.
(Source : Le Monde, 30 August 2007)
To learn more on this topic : article published on the 29 August 2007 in Il Sole 24 Ore.