CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne


Italy signs Concordat with Soka Gakkai

by Massimo Introvigne


On Saturday June 27, 2015, Italian PM Matteo Renzi visited Soka Gakkai in Florence in order to sign solemnly the Concordat (Intesa) with the movement. While Italian Constitution reserves the name "Concordato" to the one in force with the Catholic Church, which has the peculiarity that its interpretation is subtracted to Italian courts of law and entrusted to the International Court in The Hague (as it is regarded as a treaty with a foreign State, the Holy See), the other concordats, called "Intese", functions like the concordats that exist in other countries. In Italy all religions are free to operate, and more than one hundred different religions have received tax exempt status and other fiscal advantages, without any need of a concordat. Concordats include religions in a special "club" of denominations consulted by the government in certain occasions, allowed to appoint chaplains in the army - a concordat is not needed for appointing chaplains in hospitals and jails - and, perhaps more importantly, to be partially financed by taxpayers' money. Denominations with a concordat include in Italy Waldensians, Assembly of God Pentecostals, Seventh day Adventists, Jews, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, Greek Orthodox, Apostolic Pentcostals, the Italian Buddhist Union (which does not include Soka Gakkai), and the Italian Hindu Union. Mormons, on the basis of their doctrine of separation of church and state, refuse however to receive taxpayers' money. Soka Gakkai has been very successful in Italy and has currently some 75,000 members, including retired soccer star Roberto Baggio.