The Italian Almanac

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Marriahe with Benefits

A priest in a small, Adriatic town near Ferrara has offered 500 euros to young couples who would like to tie the knot, but are discouraged by economic difficulties.

Father Giancarlo Pirini, a parish priest in the tiny community of Volania, said that he was surprised when he discovered that the church's registry was half-full even though it dated back to 1955. Even more discomforting was the continual drop in numbers, from 17 in 1960, down to zero for 2006 and none so far this year.

"I imagine that many young people today want to marry, but hesitate because of financial difficulties," said Pirini. The idea, said the priest, was not completely his. "I got the idea from another parish some years ago that was offering incentives for baptisms," said Pirini.