Italy’s Last Catholic Generation? Mass Attendance in “Collapse” among Under-30s

By Hilary White

ROME, August 8, 2010 ( – Despite regular polls showing that about 30 percent of Italian Catholics claim to attend Sunday Mass regularly, a closer look at the numbers reveals a more uncertain future for the Italian Church, and consequently for Italy as a moral vanguard in Europe.

For many years, Italians responding to surveys have said that between 30 and 50 percent attend Mass more than once a month. But in 2004-5, the Patriarchate of Venice undertook a study that showed the actual attendance numbers were no more than 22.7 percent, with only 15 percent attending every Sunday. Those who attended one to three times were 7.7 percent. The survey noted that Mass attendance increases with the level of education, in contrast to findings in other parts of Europe.

While this number still compares favorably to that of other EU countries like France, where regular attendance is thought to be below 5 percent, it is likely to slide further in the coming years.

A survey conducted by Professor Paolo Segatti of the University of Milan, published in the magazine “Il Regno” in May, found that the news is even worse among younger Italians. Among those born after 1981, Segatti found, Mass attendance, self-identification as Catholic, and adherence to Catholic teaching are “in collapse.” Segatti predicted a near future in which Catholicism holds only “minority status in Italy.”

“It is imaginable that when the children of the younger generation become parents, they will make a further contribution to secularization.”

Segatti writes. “The youngest Italians are the ones to whom religious experience is most foreign. They clearly go to church less, believe in God less, pray less, trust the Church less, identify themselves as Catholic less, and say that being Italian does not mean being Catholic.”

Vatican expert and Italian journalist Sandro Magister noted last week that the loss of faith among young people has strongly affected women: “The collapse is so clear that it also wipes out the differences in religious practice between men and women – the latter of whom tend much more to be practicing – typical of the previous generations. Among the youngest, very few of the women go to church, on a par with the men.”

Currently, Italy’s deep Catholic roots can be credited for its having one of the most restrictive laws on in vitro fertilization and embryo research in the western world, as well as having a relatively low abortion rate as doctors retain and exercise the right to refuse to participate in abortion. Campaigners for euthanasia and assisted suicide have had little success in changing public opinion, or the law, to allow the deliberate killing of vulnerable people, even through the “back door” of dehydration. At the European Union, Italy has frequently been among the voices defending traditional Christian moral and social values. But all of this may change in coming decades as the older generation, raised to equate Italianness with Catholicism, die off and younger people more forthrightly reject Catholic teaching along with Mass attendance.

Magister added, however, that at least some of the blame for the collapse must be laid on the Church itself and its failure to convey its teachings to the next generation. He noted that the collapse has occurred while 94 percent of Italian children continue to be enrolled in Catholic religious instruction in elementary school, and 84 percent of high school students voluntarily take the courses.

“These are exceptionally high percentages, and they have been at these levels for years. But evidently, in view of the results, both the teaching of religion in the school and catechesis in the parishes are not up to the challenge,” Magister writes.

In 2006, Pope Benedict held up Italy as a model for European Christianity, saying, “Italy constitutes a rather favorable terrain for Christian testimony. The Church, in fact, is here a very lively reality, which retains a grassroots presence among people of every age and condition.” Benedict called upon Italians to “to seize this great opportunity” and spread the faith to the rest of Europe and the world. 

But in 2005, Cardinal Ruini, then head of the Italian bishops’ conference had already admitted that the “great majority” of Italians have only a “generic adhesion to Catholicism,” and “Those who live their faith deeply are a minority.”

Whether this will be the last generation of Italians who consider themselves culturally Catholic may in the coming decades become a moot issue, however. In 2004, the overall fertility rate in Italy hit its nadir at 1.23 children per woman, the second lowest in Europe. Since then, it has crept up to 1.32, still in the range called by demographers the “death spiral” that will lead to drastic reductions in population. 

Research undertaken at the University of Florence supports the theory of many that the boom in the Italian economy since the 1960s, and the consequent surge of consumerism, has played a significant role in the decline in birth rate. The greatly elevated expectations of living standards among the younger generation has created an attitude hostile to having more than one child. Women believe they must work outside the home and, with Italian men still rarely participating in household chores or child care, a second child is regarded as an impossible burden.

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BREAKING: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

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By John Jalsevac

Nov. 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Five hours after a single male shooter reportedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, chatter on police radio is indicating that the suspect has now been "detained."

"We have our suspect and he says he is alone," said police on the police radio channel. 

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also confirmed via Twitter shortly after 7:00 pm EST that the suspect was in custody.

The news comes almost exactly an hour after the start of a 6:00 pm. press conference in which Lt. Catherine Buckley had confirmed that a single shooter was still at large, and had exchanged gunfire with police moments before.

According to Lt. Buckley, four, and possibly five police officers have been shot since the first 911 call was received at 11:38 am local time today. An unknown number of civilians have also been shot.

Although initial reports had suggested that the shooting began outside the Planned Parenthood, possibly outside a nearby bank, Lt. Buckley said that in fact the incident began at the Planned Parenthood itself.

She said that the suspect had also brought unknown "items" with him to the Planned Parenthood. 

Pro-life groups have started responding to the news, urging caution in jumping to conclusions about the motivations of the shooter, while also condemning the use of violence in promoting the pro-life cause. 

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Pavone. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion.

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


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Rubio says SCOTUS didn’t ‘settle’ marriage issue: ‘God’s rules always win’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Surging GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, says that "God's law" trumps the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision imposing same-sex “marriage” nationwide.

The senator also told Christian Broadcast Network's David Brody that the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage is not "settled," but instead "current law."

“No law is settled,” said Rubio. “Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called to participate in that process to try to change it,” he explained, and "the proper place for that to be defined is at the state level, where marriage has always been regulated — not by the Supreme Court and not by the federal government.”

However, when laws conflict with religious beliefs, "God's rules always win," said Rubio.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio expounded. “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

“I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman," said the senator, who earlier in the fall was backed by billionaire GOP donor and same-sex "marriage" supporter Paul Singer.

Singer, who also backs looser immigration laws and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, has long pushed for the GOP to change its position on marriage in part due to the sexual orientation of his son.

Despite Singer's support, Rubio's marriage stance has largely been consistent. He told Brody earlier in the year that "there isn't such a right" to same-sex "marriage."

"You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex."

Rubio also said religious liberty should be defended against LGBT activists he says "want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters."

"I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman," he said.

Rubio also hired social conservative leader Eric Teetsel as his director of faith outreach this month.

However, things have not been entirely smooth for Rubio on marriage. Social conservatives were concerned when the executive director of the LGBT-focused Log Cabin Republicans told Reuters in the spring that the Catholic senator is "not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest."

The LGBT activist group had meetings with Rubio's office "going back some time," though the senator himself never attended those meetings. Rubio has publicly said that he would attend the homosexual "wedding" of a gay loved one, and also that he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with," as opposed to being a choice.

Additionally, days after the Supreme Court redefined marriage, Rubio said that he disagreed with the decision but that "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."

"I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman," he said. "People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

Rubio also said at the time that "it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood…"

“I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.”

The Florida senator said in July that he opposed a constitutional marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution to leave marriage up to the states because that would involve the federal government in state marriage policies.

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Former The View star Sherri Shepherd and then-husband Lamar Sally in 2010 s_bukley /
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Court orders Sherri Shepherd to pay child support for surrogate son she abandoned

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Sherri Shepherd, a Hollywood celebrity who co-hosted the popular talk show The View for seven years, has lost a maternity suit launched by her ex-husband Lamar Sally, forcing her to pay him alimony and child support for their one-year surrogate son LJ. The decision follows an unseemly fight which pro-life blogger Cassy Fiano says has exposed how surrogacy results in “commodifying” the unborn.

Shepherd, a co-host of the View from 2007 to 2014, met Sally, a screenwriter, in 2010 and they married a year later. Because her eggs were not viable, they arranged a surrogate mother in Pennsylvania to bear them a baby conceived in vitro using Sally’s sperm and a donated egg.

But the marriage soured in mid-term about the time Shepherd lost her job with The View. According to one tabloid explanation, she was worried he would contribute little to parenting responsibilities.  Sally filed for separation in 2014, Shepherd filed for divorce a few days, then Sally sued for sole custody, then alimony and child support.

Earlier this year she told PEOPLE she had gone along with the surrogacy to prevent the breakup of the marriage and had not really wanted the child.

Shepherd, an avowed Christian who once denied evolution on The View and a successful comic actor on Broadway, TV, and in film since the mid-90s, didn’t want anything to do with LJ, as Lamar named the boy, who after all carried none of her genes. She refused to be at bedside for the birth, and refused to let her name be put on the birth certificate and to shoulder any responsibility for LJ’s support.

But in April the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, and now the state’s Superior Court, ruled that Shepherd’s name must go on the birth certificate and she must pay Sally alimony and child support.

“The ultimate outcome is that this baby has two parents and the parents are Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd,” Shepherd’s lawyer Tiffany Palmer said.

As for the father, Sally told PEOPLE, “I'm glad it's finally over. I'm glad the judges saw through all the lies that she put out there, and the negative media attention. If she won't be there for L.J. emotionally, I'll be parent enough for the both of us.”

But Shepherd said, “I am appealing the ruling that happened,” though in the meantime, Sally will “get his settlement every month. There’s nothing I can do.”

Commented Fiano in Live Action News, “What’s so sickening about this case is that this little boy, whose life was created in a test tube, was treated as nothing more than a commodity…Saying that you don’t want a baby but will engineer one to get something you want is horrific.” As for trying to get out from child support payments now that the marriage had failed, that was “despicable.”

Fiano went on to characterize the Shepherd-Sally affair as a “notable example” of commodification of children, and “by no means an anomaly.” She cited a British report than over the past five years 123 babies conceived in vitro were callously aborted when they turned out to have Down Syndrome.

“When we’re not ready for babies, we have an abortion,” she added. “But then when we decide we are ready we manufacture them in a laboratory and destroy any extras. Children exist when we want them to exist, to fill the holes in us that we want them to fill, instead of being independent lives with their own inherent value and dignity.”

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