Religion and politics

Martyrology of People at Prayer

At this time, a sign as old as the story of Abel’s murder at the hands of Cain (Genesis 4) has once again come to the fore: the killing of people praying in places of worship is, in fact, the supreme form of fratricide and poses an inevitable dilemma for those survivors who are connected to the faith of the victims and to that of the murderers. How is one to react in the face of an act of terrorism that deliberately kills those who pray? Should we classify the dead according to creed so that each faith can demonstrate some primacy of martyrdom? Or must we restrict ourselves to a denunciation that might well smack of self-absolving rhetoric? What is really needed is instead an assumption of responsibility, a memory, a history, which bears within itself the wisdom necessary to see and say that in the face of violence, whether believers or non-believers, we are all brothers: of Cain and of Abel. The creation of a common martyrology, which keeps in the heart and on paper the names of those killed, aims at this: to exchange voices, in remembrance and in mourning, so that in every place of worship all are remembered.

Contributors: Andrea Amato, Giuseppe Brocato, Francesco CargneluttiAnna MambelliAlberto Melloni, Federico Ruozzi.

The USA, the Vatican and the Politics of Evangelical Growth in Central America during Reagan’s Presidency

The objective of the research is to reveal and clarify the way in which rightwing Evangelicalism in Central America captured the attention of U.S. policymakers and received financial backing from North American organizations in order to become the tool of “low-intensity” operations sponsored by the CIA. Many observers, indeed, argued that the conservative and anti-Communist character of Evangelicalism made it an ideal “neutralising agent” in a continent disrupted by radicalism. 
Yet in the last thirty years many academic works on the part of social sciences have argued that this sort of “conspiracy theory”, even if largely true, was insufficient to explain why evangelical missionary agencies have been so successful in winning a substantial popular following in several Latin American nations. First of all, some have objected that not all elements in the new Pentecostal and conservative Evangelical wave have been politically conservative. In many cases, indeed, Pentecostalism became a movement of the poor led by the poor themselves.
However impartial and fair-minded it may claim to be, this kind of explanation alone cannot provide a true picture of the evangelical growth in Latin America, which is too vast and complex a phenomenon to be understood solely in sociological terms. Historical analysis needs to be resumed, and the temporal distance that is often necessary for critical assessment now seems to permit this.

Contributor: Luca Ferracci.

State-Church relations in Post-Soviet Russia

This research aims to analyze the evolution of Church-State relations in post-Soviet Russia. It will focus on the renovated symphonia between the two institutions, the terms of the correspondence between Church and State’s foreign policy, in particular with regard to the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in maintaining the legitimacy of the post-Soviet area through the use of a terminology that refers to the imperial/soviet past. The analysis of the cooperation between the ROC and the Kremlin is carried out from the perspective of the Pan-Slavic mission as an instrument of influence in the former Republics of the Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine, Moldova, and Estonia, where the church actively promotes a moral, spiritual, and ideological agenda that coincides with the ideological conservatism that defines the identity of the Russian Federation. Focusing on Ukraine, the research aims to explore the main aspects of church-state collaboration and to deal with the reality of inter-Orthodox and Orthodox-Catholic relations, as well as the ontological character of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Contributor: Marianna Napolitano.