Italy: Religious Liberty Event in Florence

Italy: Religious Liberty Event in Florence

Dr. T. Rimoldi, former Minister V. Spini, Dr. D. Bognandi, Prof. M. Broglio

Florence, Italy [A. Mazza, CD EUDNews, Notizie Avventiste]. November 21, 2014. “Therefore faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It all started with this New Testament greeting quoted by Pastor Stefano Paris, president of the Seventh-

November 21, 2014 | A. Mazza, CD EUDNews, Notizie Avventiste.

Florence, Italy [A. Mazza, CD EUDNews]. November 21, 2014.

“Therefore faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It all started with this New Testament greeting quoted by Pastor Stefano Paris, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Italian Union (Uicca) at the beginning of the two-day conference held in Florence, as part of the series of events celebrating 150 years of Adventist presence in Italy.

The scheduled program began with this greeting, on Monday, November 10, the first day of the conference devoted to "Religious minorities and civil rights in Republican Italy".

Thanks to the conference, the idea was developed and we admitted that great things can be achieved by small groups.

"The minorities are of great importance in society," said Dora Bognandi, associate director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (Aplr) at the Italian Union and moderator of the meeting.

"Minorities work alone, but this is reciprocated by the fact that in some way they are able to change the world. There are many types of minorities, not just religious, that work against current tides, driven by high ideals and willing to sacrifice everything for it. Belonging to minorities should therefore not be cause for discouragement, history teaches us that minorities are the leaven of society."

Special guests and their presentations were much appreciated: the former Environment Minister V. Spini, Professor and Advisor to the Prime Minister's Office, F. Margiotta Broglio (defending religious freedom in international treaties, republican constitution and the role of minorities), Professor T. Rimoldi (The right to conscientious objection: an arduous journey), Professor M. Panarari (The role of minorities in history), Pastor G. Bouchard (Protestant minorities and their contribution: an insight into the Waldensian-Baptist-Methodist Churches), Dr. E. Baptist (The Adventist Church and the theology of the body as a social commitment).

Tuesday, November 11, the second day, included longer and rigorous studies on "secularization,laity atheism and the gospel."

In his opening speech, Pastor Giuseppe Cupertino, Italian Union secretary, reminisced on how 150 years are connected to the first Adventist on Italian soil. "This celebration is not only a source of satisfaction, but also causes a sense of disappointment, almost defeat, because so much time has just slipped through our fingers."

"In reality, if our identity is linked to the Advent of the Lord, 150 years is a long time," said G. Cupertino and added: "It is a dilemma also in our own communities, and this should make us reflect.... When we look at history, as Adventists it still poses a problem and is a paradox. How do you reconcile our place in history with our spiritual situation? "

The morning meetings focused on secularism and its relationship to atheism. It has been shown that secularization goes hand in hand with atheism and that secularism is not always negative and opposed to religion, because it was the presence of Christian principles that had such positive influence on society.

Speakers included Professor P. Naso (Secularization, Citizenship and laity atheism: a model to re-evaluate?), Professor F. Ferrario (Secularization and the Evangelical Church: the story of a relationship) and Professor H. Gutierrez (Secularization as a theological metaphor).

In the afternoon, opportunity to speak was given to the churches, they addressed the subject of evangelism in a secular society. The experiences of Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Waldensian Churches were told respectively by Pastors V. Fantoni, A. Maffei. P. A. Gajewski and Professor C. Napolitano. The whole day was moderated by Pastor David Romano, Director of the Association for Religious Liberty.

During the event, there was time set aside and dedicated to pay tribute to a retired pastor and president of the Italian Union, Vincenzo Mazza.

The Italian Union, in coordination with the International Association for Religious Freedom, wanted to honour brother Mazza 'for building and keeping relationships with important figures, in particular with the former Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, with whom he had formed an intimate friendship and fellowship. "Pastor Mazza made history in our department," declared the Secretary-General of IRLA (International Association of Religious Freedom) and Director of the Department of Public Affairs of the Adventist World Church, John Graz. "I will never miss an opportunity to tell about his extraordinary friendship and spiritual assistance with the former President of the Italian Republic. Congratulations!"

Pastor Mazza reminded us of the importance of establishing sincere and deep ties with politicians and leaders and positively influence world decisions and activities.

The event was streamed live on Internet TV Hope Channel Italy, and was followed by many users. All video recordings will soon be available on

Pictures: 1. Stefano Paris, current President of the Italian Union. 2. The location of the Event - the adventist 'Centro di Speranza', Florence. 3. Vincenzo Mazza, pastor and former President of the italian Union of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. (A.Mazza)

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