"The August Exodus... From Religion Class"
On Settimo cielo, Magister notes that La Repubblica -- one of the big Italian dailies -- devoted two pages on Thursday to figures reporting the precipitous drop in the number of Italian students taking religious education classes: from 11.7% refusing instruction in 2001 to a staggering 37.6% this past year. The paper discussed at length the "strong and certain link between students fleeing religion class and the political use of religion; between the new Church of the German pope and the young's refusal of the new catechism."
Pretty heady stuff, eh?
The Italian Education Ministry went off and stated that the numbers were grossly inaccurate. The CEI (the Italian Bishops' Conference) announced that their figures only showed a 1.2% increase in the number of students rejecting religious ed....
So it's basically descended into another classic Italian fracas, just over numbers.
Regardless of where the truth lies -- and a 26% decrease in CCD enrollment over four years is a tough number to quibble at -- the stories raise salient questions at the start of an event which might well make for great press and visuals, but whose tangible effects on an international scale remain to be seen.