Religious marriage attracts less and less Italians
From our correspondent
Last year, Alessia Calamita took the plunge. This 27-year-old Roman has settled with her partner, whom she has been seeing for nine years, very close to her parents’ home and the church where she has been going since childhood. For this catechist very involved in the life of her parish, the choice was not easy. “It weighs on me a lot but I really had to leave my parents, I needed to have a space for me and with my companion», she confides. The religious marriage is in a corner of her head but she does not envisage it in the near future. “We are only 27 years old. My partner has to finish his master’s degree, after that we would like to buy a house, it’s a question of priority”, says this engineer.
In twelve years, Father Stefano Cascio, parish priest of Saint-Bonaventure, in the eastern suburbs of Rome, has seen practices evolve. “The young people who marry today are not really married anymore, they are almost 40 years old. Sometimes they already live together or have children, he notes, regretting that marriage is no longer the foundation of the couple. The preparation for marriage has changed a lot: before, we brought in a doctor to talk about natural contraception, today the sessions are organized according to the nanny. « It may be a fear of commitment in a time when nothing is more eternal or forever », he suggests, referring to “a generation traumatized by divorces”.
As such, the figures from the National Institute of Statistics (Istat) speak for themselves. If the number of marriages in Italy has been in constant decline for ten years – more than 60,000 fewer between 2008 and 2019 – it is above all the inversion of the relationship between civil and religious marriages which marks a profound rupture. For the first time, in 2019, civil marriages were the most numerous, 96,789 against 87,299 religious marriages.
“In the 1970s, civil marriage hardly existed, it represented 2.3% of cases. In 2008 it had already gained momentum (36.7%) and in 2019 it overtook religious marriage (52%)”, explains Antonella Guarneri, researcher at Istat. “On the one hand, demographic decline affects all marriages because there are fewer young people of marriageable age. On the other hand, the rise in second marriages has upset the civil-religious relationship,” analyzes the specialist.
Emanuela Caglio, wedding planner in Milan since 2007, saw the tipping point. “Fifteen years ago, out of 20 weddings, I organized 19 religious and one civil. Today it’s more 8-12. » An upheaval that she explains in particular by the evolution of civil ceremonies. “Previously, they were very sanitized, it lasted fifteen minutes. Today, they last longer, we have added speeches, exchanges of promises,music… They take up the symbolic rites of religious ceremonies. » A mix of genres from Anglo-Saxon culture, according to Emanuela Caglio.
“Today it is very fashionable to get married on the beach or in a garden, which the church does not allow, so we marry civilly to be able to do it”, deplores Father Cascio, who sees it as a sign of the secularization of Italian society. » Thatdemonstrates that faith has much less impact on people’s lives. It no longer directs the choices,” he continues, specifying that this phenomenon also concerns the other sacraments such as baptism. “We are experiencing what France experienced twenty-five years ago. We have moved into a post-Christian world where faith has become a tradition more than a conviction,” regrets Father Stefano Cascio. “We must succeed in making people understand that faith is not only a set of values and traditions, but a real choice of life. »
Putting faith back at the center is also the intuition of Msgr. Dario Gervasi, auxiliary bishop of Rome, delegate for the pastoral care of the family. “Before, we got married in the Church because it was normal, we didn’t ask ourselves the question, now it has become a choice. Faith is all the more important because you have to be really convinced,” he assures. With this in mind, more and more Italian parishes are offering faith journeys to young people, in order to make them aware of the importance of Christian marriage. “Faith must be lived with joy, pleads Bishop Gervasi. We must introduce young people to the beauty of faith and pass it on, this is what we have missed and what will allow us to rally future generations. »