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21 Nov, 2022 15:23

Italians could be paid for marrying in church

The Lega political party wants to subsidize religious weddings, arguing it will strengthen the family
Italians could be paid for marrying in church

Young Italians of modest means who marry in a church ceremony could see their nuptials paid for by the government if a bill, presented by five Lega lawmakers on Sunday, passes. The initiative seeks to revive the tradition of religious marriages and encourage Italians to start families.

Eligibility for the benefits – which would be divided into five annual payments, presumably so couples can’t scam the government with quickie divorce-and-remarriage schemes – would be limited to newlyweds under 35 with combined income under €23,000, making under €11,500 each. Both spouses must have held Italian citizenship for at least ten years, and the wedding must take place in Italy.

The €20,000 figure was decided upon as representing 20% of the cost of religious ornaments, including flowers, booklets, clothes for bride and groom, hair, makeup, photography, catering, and party favors.

The bill’s first signatory, Lega MP Domenico Furgiuele, predicted the benefit would be extended to all marriages, “regardless of whether they are celebrated in church or not,” if taken up for debate in Parliament. MPs Simone Billi, Ingrid Bisa, Alberto Gusmeroli and Erik Pretto also signed their names to the proposal. While PM Giorgia Meloni’s office has denied involvement in the initiative, it is reportedly working on its own measures to support the family.

Some 47.4% of the 184,000 marriages that took place in Italy in 2019 were church weddings, according to statistical agency Istat. That represents a significant decline from 1990, when 82% of Italian weddings took place in church. Since 2018, civil marriages have outnumbered church marriages, part of a general nationwide decline in religious observance. While 75% of Italians identify as Catholic, less than a quarter of them attend Mass regularly.

The marriage subsidy proposal was previously submitted in 2019 but was never considered, as the government collapsed when Lega leader Mattteo Salvini revoked his party’s support of the cabinet.