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Italian Catholics debate over Protestant churches

.- The renowned Vatican watcher Sandro Magister analyzes the growing debate among Catholic Italians regarding which Protestant denomonitations should be accepted in his weekly article published by L’Espresso Online.

According to Magister, the debate has been fueled by a study commissioned by the Waldensian Church—one of the oldest Protestant denominations in Italy—which reveals discrepancies between Catholics regarding how they view different Protestant denominations.

A study commissioned by the Waldensian Church and made public on May 6 certifies that Italians appreciate Protestantism for its “social commitment,” “solidarity,” and “moral rigor,” apart from a “better knowledge of the sacred texts” and “behavior more consistent with their faith.”

The study reveals that Italians are very ignorant of the Evangelical world—most of them think, for example, that President Bush is Catholic—and they “appreciate Protestantism for its ‘social commitment,’ ‘solidarity,’ and ‘moral rigor,’ apart from a ‘better knowledge of the sacred texts’ and ‘behavior more consistent with their faith’.”

Magister writes that among Catholic intellectuals, there is a greater willingness to dialogue with “traditional” Protestant denominations (Lutherans, Anglicans, Waldensians), but there is hostility towards those Evangelicals considered to be “fundamentalist.”

Nevertheless, says Magister, this double standard among Catholic intellectuals has been energetically criticized by Waldensian Pastor Giorgio Bouchard, who says that Pentecostal movements defined as “fundamentalist” “represent a new and legitimate interpretation of Christian piety” in an age “infested by the worst kind of moral relativism and by a suffocating materialism.”

According to Magister, Bouchard calls on intellectuals, whether they are Catholic or not, to renounce the old prejudice that every Evangelical movement that comes from the US is a plot by the CIA.

Magister’s complete essay can be found here:
www.chiesa.espressonline.it/english

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