In strongly Catholic Italy, the right to divorce was one of the major social and political issues of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The right to legal separation was first proposed in October 1965 by the socialist deputy Loris Fortuna. Fortuna’s bill met fierce resistance from the Church, but, helped by a cross-party pressure group for reform—the “Italian League for the Institution of Divorce”—his ideas gradually won support. In November 1969 a parliamentary coalition of the “lay” parties defeated the opposition of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC) and the Movimento Sociale Italiano/Italian Social Movement (MSI) by 325 to 283 votes to pass a law that permitted the state, rather than the Church alone, to authorize the dissolution of a marriage. The so-called Legge Fortuna became law in December 1970. Pope Paul VI expressed his “profound regret” for the decision, which the church regarded as a violation of the Lateran pacts. Within six months more than one million Catholics had signed a petition for a referendum abrogating the new divorce law, and, in January 1972, the Constitutional Court declared the proposed referendum legitimate. To avoid a divisive social clash over the issue, in February 1972, the political parties resorted to dissolving Parliament and calling an early general election (which, by law, may not be held concurrently with a referendum) in order to postpone the referendum vote. In 1973, Amintore Fanfani, hoping to make political capital from the issue, turned it into a crusade (he famously warned that homosexual marriage would be legalized if Italians did not turn back the tide of sexual license of which the divorce law was a harbinger). Bowing to the inevitable, president Giovanni Leone called a referendum on the issue in March 1974. The poll, which took place on 12–13 May 1974, illustrated the shift in Italian social mores brought about by the previous two decades of economic growth and social transformation. Some 87 percent of the electorate voted, and a resounding 59.3 percent voted against abrogating the divorce law. Huge numbers of Catholics, taking notice of Pope Paul’s studied moderation during the electoral campaign, either abstained or voted in favor of the Legge Fortuna. The introduction of divorce has not shaken the foundations of the Italian family. While the number of divorces has greatly increased, the percentage of dissolved marriages remains very low by richcountry standards. Moreover, only 6–7 percent of Italian children are born out of wedlock, compared with figures of 30 percent or more for some industrial democracies.
   See also Women.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • DIVORCE — Le divorce est la rupture, consacrée par le droit, de l’union conjugale. Ce caractère le distingue nettement de la séparation de corps qui ne rompt pas le lien matrimonial, mais fait seulement disparaître l’obligation de cohabitation, et de la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • DIVORCE — (Heb. גֵּרוּשִׁין), the formal dissolution of the marriage bond. IN THE BIBLE Divorce was accepted as an established custom in ancient Israel (cf. Lev. 21:7, 14; 22:13; Num. 30:10; Deut. 22:19, 29). In keeping with the other cultures of the Near… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • divorce — di·vorce 1 n [Middle French, from Latin divortium, from divortere divertere to leave one s marriage partner, from di away, apart + vertere to turn]: the dissolution of a valid marriage granted esp. on specified statutory grounds (as adultery)… …   Law dictionary

  • divorce — DIVORCE. s. m. Rupture de mariage. Le divorce estoit en usage parmy les Romains. le divorce n est point permis dans le Christianisme. Il se prend parmy nous pour la separation de corps & de biens entre les gens mariez. Ce mari & cette femme ont… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Divorce — Di*vorce , n. [F. divorce, L. divortium, fr. divortere, divertere, to turn different ways, to separate. See {Divert}.] 1. (Law) (a) A legal dissolution of the marriage contract by a court or other body having competent authority. This is properly …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • divorce — DIVORCE. subs. masc. Séparation de deux époux par la rupture légale du mariage. Le divorce étoit en usage parmi les Juifs et les Romains. Le divorce n est point permis dans le Christianisme, suivant la doctrine catholique. [b]f♛/b] Il se prend… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Divorce — Di*vorce , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Divorced}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Divorcing}.] [Cf. F. divorcer. See {Divorce}, n.] 1. To dissolve the marriage contract of, either wholly or partially; to separate by divorce. [1913 Webster] 2. To separate or disunite;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • divorcé — divorcé, ée (di vor sé, sée) part. passé. Qui a fait divorce. Femme divorcée.    Substantivement. Un divorcé. Les divorcés …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • divorce — [də vôrs′] n. [ME & OFr < L divortium < divortere, var. of divertere, to turn different ways: see DIVERSE] 1. legal and formal dissolution of a marriage 2. any complete separation or disunion vt. divorced, divorcing 1. to dissolve legally a …   English World dictionary

  • Divorce Me C.O.D. — Divorce Me C.O.D. is a 1946 song by Merle Travis. The song was Merle Travis first release to make it to number one on the Folk Juke Box charts where it stayed for fourteen weeks and a total of twenty three weeks on the chart [1]. The B side of… …   Wikipedia

  • divorce — DIVORCE: Si Napoléon n avait pas divorcé, il serait encore sur le trône …   Dictionnaire des idées reçues

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