Immigrants, growing number in Italy are Orthodox

Andrea Tornielli



The Encyclopedia of Religion in Italy (pp. 1240, 125 euro) is a large volume created by the Turin based sociologists Massimo Introvigne and Pierluigi Zoccatelli, director and vice director of CENSUR, respectively. They found and described 836 religions present in Italy. One of the big findings that came out of the research was the significant growth of orthodox Christian immigrants, which are close to the numbers of Muslim immigrants and will likely supersede Muslim immigrants in the next few years. Vatican Insider interviewed Massimo Introvigne.

In the collective imagination, immigrants are Muslim; instead the orthodox Christian immigrant community is on the rise and will likely supersede Muslim immigrant numbers. What explains this phenomenon?

The largest Orthodox Christian community in Italy is Romanian with 163 churches – and the number continues to grow. The allowance of Romania into the European Union in 2007 has resulted in an easier immigration into Italy especially because Romanian is neo-Latin language and the children and adolescence understand Italian much quicker than other immigrants. In spite of the Italian economic crisis, that has slowed sown immigration from other countries, the social and economic situation in Romania, immigration to Italy remains alluring. The same applies, to a lesser extent to Romania, to other Eastern European countries with a majority of Orthodox. The growth of Orthodox immigrants in Italy does not derive from any specific religious reason but rather the motives of migration. At the same time, it is true that the Orthodox church – including the Romanian church – has emerged in Italy to continue relations with its faithful immigrants, such that the secularization of immigrants – that leave their homes, also happens with religion – for orthodox Christians this is relative.

The members of minor religions include 2.5% of Italians, and 7.6% of persons in Italy. Why is there a sensation, in the public opinion, that there is an invasion of other religions and in particular Islam?

With the processes that aren’t new but were increased with September 11, 2001, Europe has begun to display a fear of the “invasion of Islam” and the conquest of Italy by Muslims is no longer military – like the invasion of Vienna in 1683 – but rather through the increase in immigration. Paradoxically, this fear is reinforced by members of Islamic fundamentalism which takes credit for a renewed “conquest of Europe” through immigration and large families. This is what sociology calls “moral panic,” a phenomenon that is based on data but is amplified in the collective imagination becoming difficult to distinguish between real statistics and statistical folklore. However, the moral panic is based on real data.

In Italy, which for many years has been a land of emigration with an increased immigration, the number of immigrants and non-Catholics (in particular Muslims) did not integrate in a phased manner like in France over the course of a century, in Italy the more rapid immigration is during the span of a few decades. In 1970, Muslims in Italy numbered a few thousand, and are now – according to our Encyclopedia, others believe more – 1,475,000, including 115,000 who are Italian citizens. Such rapid growth obviously poses problems. The existence of small minorities who are seduced by the ultra-fundamentalism and terrorism is a real fact, as seen by police reports. The data tells us that Muslims are numerous but that there is no “invasion.” And, also, religious pluralism is a phenomenon which is culturally important and growing, but statistically it is still a relatively small minority, it is true that 97.5% of Italian citizens are not part of religious minorities.”

Rai Film about Islam

March 19, 2013

A Capuchin monk from Friulana, Marco D’Aviano, who energized Christians troops before the Battle of Vienna in which Ottoman army of 300,000 warriors was stopped in their besiegement of Vienna on September 11, 1683. The film explains that this was the first September 11; 300 years ago. Produced by RAI the film will premier on  April 11 and will be distributed by Microcinema. The distribution of the film has already been postponed once due to the film’s political incorrectness according to RAI leadership.

The film, which cost over € 5 million, was filmed with great battle scenes in Romania and Italy. The director’s aim was not necessarily to show that there is evidence to support a comparison between September 11, 1683 and that of 2001. The director stresses that “is not a film against Islam but on the total senselessness of the wars of religion. It’s a movie that focuses on a figure from the depths of history that of a great Christian priest: Marco D’Aviano. Marco D’Aviano was canonized a few years ago by Pope John Paul II, who aware of the priests importance in the history of Europe. Yet, inexplicably, no one knows who is Marco D’Aviano.” The film also focuses on Kara Mustafa, a great Muslim leader (played by Enrico Lo Verso). Both characters are convinced that their God will bring them a superhuman feat: Kara Mustafa wants to destroy Vienna and come to Rome to transform the St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque. Marco D’Aviano wants to prevent this plan.

Omar Bakri, a radical Muslim linked to Al-Qaeda, is threatening Spain with terrorist attacks.

7 October 2012


Bakri has said to a journalist of the newspaper 24 Chasa that Spain is a Muslim country like Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo or Bosnia.
According to the Al-Qaeda agent born in Syria, which has banned from entering Britain since July 2005, any place that has always belonged to Islam, if it is “occupied” by infidels, that territory should be “freed “.
Spain, a decaying nation, is in the spotloght of the “radical” Muslims, who observe how the terror of ETA obtained political gains after decades of cold-blooded killings and car bombings.

Romania: Religion Debated in Romania Schools

Government education reforms to overhaul religious instruction and modernize curriculum are sparking debate in Romania, concerning the role of religion in schools. “Religious education here indoctrinates, fuelling prejudice against other faiths and against sexual minorities,” said Smaranda Enache, co-president of human rights group Liga Pro-Europa. However, Enache voiced her concern that teaching children to discriminate builds a negative national mentality resulting in the rejection of human differences. The Romanian government proposed education reforms that would introduce alternative to religion classes for pupils. Also under the reform, would include a place for all religious symbols – not just Orthodox icons. Atheists would also be allowed to refused religious education.

Spain’s dire straits for immigrants

African migrants trying to reach Europe find that entrance via Spain is the preferable route. The Spanish government says that illegal crossings by boat have decreased by 60% this year, compared to the previous year – about 31,000 illegal immigrants arrived by boat to the Canaries, which lies just 67 miles off the coast of northwest Africa. The plight taken by African migrants has sparked an increasing amount of media attention and concern. Immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and African now comprise about 9% of Spain’s population – with the majority from Morocco and Romania.

Bishops’ Conference On Islam In Europe

EUROPE/IRELAND – Presence of Islam in Europe, freedom of press and respect for religions, ecumenical matters, focus of annual meeting for media officers and spokespersons of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe Maynooth (Agenzia Fides) – The Media Officers and Spokespersons of Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences are set to meet in Maynooth (Ireland) from 20-23 July 2006. The 35 participants will come from 23 countries: Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland. The meeting is organised by CCEE and is taking place at the invitation of the Irish Bishops’ Conference and the Director of their Communications Office, Martin Long. The Bishops’ Conferences’ media officers will discuss the following themes :the presence of Islam in Europe: the current trends in Islam and the pastoral challenges facing the Churches in the sphere of communications, too; the Catholic perspective on the freedom of the press and respect for religions; ecumenical matters, and in particular the development of the process of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly (Sibiu, Romania, 4-9 September 2007) and reconciliation among the Churches of Northern Ireland; the agenda of the European Union, and in particular the work of the EU Information Society and Media Commission. In addition, part of the meeting will also be dedicated to the exchange of information about current issues within the work of the Bishops’ Conferences. The schedule in Maynooth will include opportunities for prayer and the celebration of Mass. On Saturday 22 July, the participants will visit the ancient monastic site of Glendalough and in the evening will be received by the Archbishop of Dublin and ComECE Vice-president, Diarmuid Martin. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 18/7/2006, righe 17, parole 212)