Rome, February 16 – (NEV CS / 14) – February 17th is the anniversary of the Patent Letters by which King Carlo Alberto, in 1848, granted the civil rights to Waldensians, until then confined to a sort of an “Alpine ghetto”. A few weeks later the same rights were granted to the Jews. Since then, for the Waldensians and for all the Protestants, every February 17th is a day of celebration.
For the last decades, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) has been inviting to observe this anniversary as “Freedom Day”: “everybody’s freedom not only Protestants’” – said Pastor Luca Maria Negro, president of FCEI, and continued: “A feast to reaffirm the need to overcome the fascist rules on the ‘permitted cults’ and finally to approve – after 51 years since the promulgation of the republican Constitution – a framework law on religious freedom, which guarantee the rights of all religious confessions, including those who have not signed an Agreement with the State”. “This is in fact – continues the FCEI president – an exceptionally important and delicate subject for the present and the future of an increasingly pluralistic society, even from a confessional point of view. This is why the FCEI General Convention, which met three months ago in Rome and Pomezia (16-18 November 2018), re-launched the proposal to establish the 17th of February as a national Day for freedom of conscience, thought and religion”.
Negro also recalled that the FCEI General Convention “confirmed its support to the various religious confessions that call for an Agreement with the State according to the art. 8 of the Constitution, and reiterated its commitment to monitoring and acting to fight local and regional laws aimed at limiting the exercise of religious freedom”.
“Our commitment as Protestants – concluded pastor Negro – is part of a convinced action for a secular State that should not be understood exclusively as distinction or separation between the State functions and those of the religious confessions, but as a project of an open and pluralistic society able to recognize and value its different components “.