Laura Asioli joined the church at 8 years old in Pescara, Italy when naively seeking English lessons from American missionaries. She studied Law and Italian law LLB followed by a Competition laws LLM. She qualified as a financial services solicitor in 2010 and has since worked in house for a commercial bank in London. She is a mother of a 16 month old boy with another one on the way. She is counting down the days to her maternity leave in January! We are delighted to have her as our guest.
Less than 4 years from President Monson’s announcement that a Temple would be built in Rome, Italy’s President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano signed the ‘Intesa con lo Stato’, a document granting the LDS Church the same status as the Catholic Church in Italy.
Italian members feel this is nothing short of a miracle and the beginning of something very exciting. A miracle, yes; but also proof of the much quoted mantra ‘pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on you’ actually works.
Members of the Church haven’t sat back in the last 5 years since the original ‘intesa’ was signed (for 5 years the intesa existed but had not been ratified by law, thus was just an ‘ideal’). For the past 5 years, General Authorities and members in Italy have been actively engaged in a good cause – obtaining for the LDS Church full religious freedom.
It is worth noting that back in 2007 the LDS Church was linked with other faiths in ‘lobbying’ for the intesa to be ratified. The Italian Government did not confirm the status of the other faiths however on 30 July. Why? Because they were asking the Italian Government more than what the LDS Church were, presumably funding of some sort. This has been another testament that the law of tithing & offerings practised by faithful members in Italy has even more blessings than immediately meet the eye.
The blessings the intesa will be bring are many, but perhaps the one which has brought a sigh of relief for most Italian members is that finally they wont have to sit through another documentary describing Mormonism as a ‘cult’ or even worst non-Christians!
One member in Italy even described the difficulties in finding land to build a chapel on. For months they would approach the local council for land which had been offered for sale. When the purpose of the purchase would be explained, the councils would refuse to sell the land for one reason or another.
Hopefully, the ratifying into law of the intesa should bring about the end of a lot of discrimination.
The only problem that has been discussed amongst members in Italy surrounding the intesa, (admittedly amongst Italian LDS lawyers) is that, certain professions will now be incompatible with certain Church offices. Under Italian law, ‘ministri di culto’ (religious ministers) cannot be legal professionals nor can they be local councillors or mayors (parenthetically, they can be elected to parliament but I think that is a lacuna). The theory is that they may take advantage of congregations for their work related/political means. There is a worry that, for example, a well loved, local Catholic priest could preach from the pulpit that his congregation are to vote him in as town Mayor. Clearly this has little relevance for Mormon congregations where a Bishop is likely to preside over a small congregation which ministers to the whole town and are therefore unlikely to influence the vote in a substantial way. Although pretty much all legal professions are incompatible with any office above that of Branch President it is a small price to pay to be on par with the Catholic church.
Obviously this creates some problems with the members of the church and also the local leadership. For members it means they may be placed in the difficult situation of potentially being called to serve as a Bishop: if you were to accept the call you also would need to give up the career you have trained all you life for. Do you change your job or refuse the calling? For leaders this may mean that you are now feel unable to call certain members of the Stake or that this is a great burden to place on someone.
Difficult one – suddenly I am grateful that I’m Italian, LDS, a lawyer and also a woman, so will never be in such a difficult predicament…