The Italian Almanac

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The vast majority of Italians claim to be Catholics but many have a personal interpretation of the religion, according to a German poll. The poll of 1,000 Italians found that 89% claimed to be religious and Catholic and 44% defined themselves as ``deeply`` religious. However, only half of the declared Catholics said they followed the Church`s teachings and polices in regard to the education of their children or their relationship with their partners, while only 42% said the views of the Church influenced their sexual behavior.

Carried out for the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation, the poll discovered that 55% of Italians go to mass at least once a month and 47% pray at least once a day. Italians also stood out from other Europeans for their interest in faith with 85% believing in the existence of God and 67% convinced that there was life after death. The percentage of people who believe in God in Italy was significantly higher than the 60-70% found in France and Britain and 70-72% in Germany and Austria and was much closer to the the percentages in Spain, Poland and the United States.

This religiousness in Italy, the poll found, was not just limited to the elderly and was in fact growing among people under the age of 30, many of whom felt more spiritual than their parents or grandparents.