Guglielmi, Marco (2019) Religion, Diaspora, and Human Rights: A Case Study on the Romanian Orthodox Church in Italy. [Ph.D. thesis]
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Abstract (italian or english)
This thesis deals with the Orthodox Christian diasporas in Italy viewed as a ‘Western Orthodox laboratory’. In this scenario, it is possible to identify some patterns of the settlement of Orthodox Christianity in Western Europe and some responses of this religious group to certain phenomena of modernity. This sociological research focuses on the Romanian Orthodox Church in Italy, and investigates the socio-cultural trajectories of this diaspora religion marked by an important migratory phenomenon. As will be noted in the study, the Romanian diaspora in Italy is the largest Romanian diaspora in the world, and this makes the Italian peninsula a ‘special’ host country for Romanian Orthodox faithful. This great migration phenomenon is favoured for linguistic and cultural reasons, and also for religious aspects concerning specific features of Romanian Orthodoxy and some stances of Italian Catholicism.
Orthodox Christianity has maintained a controversial relationship with modernity, and maintains a pre-modern approach towards some contemporary issues. Human rights are a ‘product’ of modernity, with which Eastern Orthodoxy has in fact a controversial relationship. Therefore, their acceptance or non-acceptance on the part of this religious tradition becomes a privileged perspective allowing for an examination of the extent of its hybridization processes within the socio-cultural context of a host country. The Romanian Orthodox diaspora is faced with the reality of a Western country, and in dealing with and interacting with certain structural elements of modernity, which, as will be seen in the thesis, involve the paths and modalities whereby the Romanian Orthodox Diocese in Italy contends with the new environment.
As outlined above, this research mainly emphasizes two points, which are crucial to consider interrelated or in continuity to the same issue of the relationship existing between religion and modernity. The first one concerns the establishment of the Orthodox Christian diasporas in Italy, with respect to which it investigates patterns of socio-cultural and religious changes in the host context. It focuses on the path of the settlement of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Italian society and its interaction with the Catholic Church. The study concentrates on both the religious and social activities of this church in diaspora, and considers the processes of hybridization within its establishment in Italy. It investigates the religious changes favoured by the diaspora’s condition and by the impact of the host country, addressing some forms of aggiornamento of the Orthodox tradition. In the second point, this research draws attention to the relationship between the Romanian Orthodox Church and some human rights issues. After the development of a theoretical and theological framework on the relationship between Eastern Orthodoxy and human rights, it examines the case of a Romanian Orthodox parish in the Veneto region. It investigates the positions of Romanian Orthodox women on some gender issues and on women’s empowerment in the family and in society. It focuses also on the positions and attitudes of these Orthodox female faithful towards human rights, especially with respect to such categories as the rights to life and religious pluralism.
This thesis attempts to challenge the situation of the Romanian Orthodoxy in Italy as a transnational religion. Following the findings about this diaspora religion’s settlement and hybridization, it hypothesizes that in the new lifestyle and immigrant status of the Orthodox women some adaptations have occurred; and they may have modified their position towards certain human rights issues.
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