The Economist recently published an interesting article on church and state in Italy.  It probably reflects the traditionally secular outlook of the Economist. Note the assumption that if Italian Catholics take a position agreeing with the bishops they must be doing so not on their own judgment but only because the bishops have told them to. 

The whole article can be found with graphics and related items at

It indicates that Pope Benedict sees the stance of the Italian church as part of a struggle against the kind of secularist politics that has emerged in Spain.  The question, however, is whether what seems like a rather unnuanced strategy (legal opposition to living wills?) is not exactly what produces that kind of politics. 

Peter Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal and religion writer for the New York Times, is a University Professor Emeritus at Fordham University and author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

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