United in Diversity electronic town meeting

It’s been a bridge of inter-religious communication and listening aimed at sharing visions and perspectives useful for guaranteeing everyone the possibility and certainty of having a funeral ritual according to their beliefs and culture.

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Avventura Urbana conducted a preliminary investigation and designed an Electronic Town Meeting in collaboration with the Interreligious Round Table of Rome , on the issue of the right to have a funeral in compliance with one’s own religious and ethical traditions.

Today’s Italy is no longer a fundamentally Catholic country. Over the last thirty years, reality has changed: the number of Italians belonging to other religious confessions has increased, as has the number of migrants and citizens who have chosen the path of secularism.

The Covid experience has increased the level of awareness in the urgency of opening a national debate on such controversial and complex issues as that of human dying, the right to receive a funeral rite according to one’s own tradition, the treatment of the body and the duty of institutions and political decision-makers to be prepared to respond to the needs of a changing country, while contributing to developing an open, inclusive and respectful cultural climate for all.

“United in diversity: the right to a funeral rite according to one’s own tradition” is the involvement process promoted by Exitus Spa and the Aps Novara Cremation Society, in collaboration with the Interreligious Table of Rome, and it aims to promote the right for all, whatever their religious affiliation or spiritual perspective, origin and culture, to have their wishes respected in carrying out the funeral, in compliance with Italian laws.

The project developed through several phases. Initially, a preliminary listening survey was conducted aimed at mapping the most recurring problematic issues on the topic. Subsequently, the results of this investigation formed the basis on which the Town Meeting of 22nd October was set up, which involved representatives of various religious, non-religious and ethnic communities, voluntary associations, health facilities and administrations, in sharing and dialogue activities to identify points of reflection and operational ideas useful for the short and medium term.

During the Town Meeting, the solutions to be adopted to meet everyone’s needs were concretely discussed. It has been talked of the need to adopt national guidelines capable of guiding territories, local communities and the actors involved in care and end of life. There has been a dialogue about training and information and the importance of offering protection also to those who do not have a religious community to which they belong or family members at their side when greeting.

The Italian Constitution guarantees, in its Article 19, the right to freely profess one’s religious faith in any form, and it’s with the dissemination of greater knowledge on the topics under debate and the exercise of good practices of social inclusion, that this law can be acted upon in concrete terms, with legislative clarity, tolerance and cultural openness.