What Are the Religious Beliefs of the Italian People?

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According to the CESNUR Center for Studies on New Religions, 85 percent of Italian are Roman Catholics. This is perhaps natural, as Italy serves as the home of the Vatican and papacy itself. However, there are some minority religions which have established a noticeable presence in the country, whether through natural-born citizens or immigration.

As most Italians are Roman Catholic, they believe in the authority of the pope and the primacy of the

Catholic Church over all other Christian denominations. This stems back to Christ's instruction to the apostle Peter to build a single church in his name. Catholics believe that the pope, being a successor of St. Peter, holds the responsibility to keep Christians together in this manner.

Catholics in Italy, and elsewhere, believe in the divinity of Christ as the son of god, his crucifixion and his resurrection. They believe in the three-fold expression of God's presence as sanctified in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many Catholics believe in the veneration of saints, and they pray for their intercession in specific circumstances. Observant Italian Catholics will also likely follow conservative social doctrines as well, such as the rejection of contraception, abortion and divorce.

During the 2000s, other emergent religions appeared in larger numbers in the Italian census. Among native-born Italians, Jehovah's Witnesses ranked second to Catholics, with almost a half-million adherents. Among immigrants, the most significant denomination is Islam, which has just over one million followers, according to CESNUR Center for Study on New Religions. The Jewish population of Italy, however, remains relatively small, with about 36,000 adherants.