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1984-2009: 25 years since the first anti-clericalist meeting in Fano

category italy / switzerland | religion | news report author Friday September 11, 2009 00:15author by Francesca Palazzi Arduini Report this post to the editors

The Anti-Clericalist Meetings took place in Fano for 15 years and were to become a reference point in Italy's battle for respect for cultural diversity and freedom of thought, in a country which in many respects is still extremely backward with regard to the recognition of individual freedom and civil rights that have been taken for granted in other European countries for a long time, including the right to make a living will, the right to a medically-assisted pregnancy and civil rights for non-married couples. [Italian]


1984-2009: 25 years since the first anti-clericalist meeting in Fano


The Anti-Clericalist Meetings took place in Fano for 15 years and were to become a reference point in Italy's battle for respect for cultural diversity and freedom of thought, in a country which in many respects is still extremely backward with regard to the recognition of individual freedom and civil rights that have been taken for granted in other European countries for a long time, including the right to make a living will, the right to a medically-assisted pregnancy and civil rights for non-married couples.

The history of the Meetings is a history of challenges, of provocation (for example the attack by right-wing skinheads in 1988 and the various press distortions) and of repression (remember the attempts to ban the display of the words "Anti-Clericalist Meeting" and the bans on the use of public spaces in 1990, not to mention the various - successful - court cases). It was creative chaos and represented a focal point for what, in 1986, became the first organized attempt at civil protest against the fraudulent head-counts of members of the Catholic Church in Italy - the De-Baptism Association (Associazione per lo Sbattezzo).

The Meetrings were like a mini-Woodstock, with illustrious guests and great performances and were always completely self-managed, using public spaces that until then had been unused or little-used, such as the Rocca Malatestiana, the Bastione Sangallo (before its restoration) and the Chiostro San Michele (complete with dodgy floor upstairs!).

They were the years of the papacy of Wojtyle, elected in 1978, and the various financial and political deals that burst into public eye with the IOR scandal in 1982, the incrimination of Cardinal Paul Marcinkus and the murder of Roberto Calvi. A turbulent climate which also saw the attempt on the life of the Pope in 1981.

But they were also the years of the reform of religious instruction in state schools, thanks to the "Falcucci Law" in 1985. This was the time when Craxi signed a new Concordat, introducing the "8 per thousand", then to the sole benefit of the Catholic Church [1].

The Meetings, completely self-managed, were organized by the then-active Circolo Libertario "N. Papini", but also saw the active participation of many other anarchist groups, including the FdCA. Its greatest strength was in its ability to create a secular zone for debate and discussion of ideas and of course, to carry on the great battles for a secular society in that time of change within Italian society.

Over the years, apart from the wonderful "Heretical Menus" served by the self-managed kitchens, serving up over 500 meals a day, there were conferences on the cultural roots of the Northern League, at that time in its early days, on the conquest of the Americas and cultural genocide, and the relatively new concept (for the '80s) of multiculturalism was discussed. Dozens of musical groups and artists contributed with free shows, and each Meeting filled Fano's hotels and campsites. The national media (from "Il Corriere della Sera" to "Marie Claire") sent reporters and even international papers (such as "The Times") showed an interest in the events.

Since the days of the first Meeting from 3-4 August at the Tensostruttura in Fano in 1984, the Anti-Clericalist Meeting was a witness to freedom and anti-conformism, an example perhaps of how today's society makes it difficult to re-create such an intricate a web of culture, politics and creativity, under the ever-increasing control of the market, of commercialization and of pressure from the political institutions, in a society suffering from such increasing stress.


Francesca Palazzi Arduini


Further information, photos, posters: (in Italian) http://www.abanet.it/papini/anticler/meeting.htm
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associazione_per_lo_Sbattezzo

Translator's Note:
1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_per_thousand

Related Link: http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen
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