Communion and Liberation: a Catholic movement in a multilevel governance perspective
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AbstractIn this article we focus on how changes in political structure influence religion. Communion and Liberation (CL) is widely known in Italy as a very important Catholic movement whose political power has been significantly increasing in the last 15 years. It is an example of a movement deeply rooted at the local level, where its activities range from grassroots meetings to business activities and service provision. In the sociological literature, CL has been studied either by focusing on its political ideology, or as a religious movement. Introducing a specific focus on the political system allows us to highlight the close relationships between the recent changes in the Italian political system and the reasons for the local success of CL. Indeed, it has been a process of mutual adaptation and influence. The political success of a Catholic movement in a Western democracy is relevant to understanding the changing role of religion in the political arena. Christian movements can play a role of substitution for traditional political movements in countries where traditional parties have become particularly weak and not capable of inspiring enthusiasm among citizens. But the story of CL in Lombardy suggests also that something is changing in the relationship between national and local politics. CL is able to play on different territorial horizons by using local, regional and national political spheres to promote its policies, mainly in the welfare sector. This is an important signal of a capacity both to adapt to a changing political system and to influence these changes. In this paper we focus on the relationships between CL and Italian politics in the Second Republic (1993 to the present day) by analysing CL representation of its political role as well as by pointing out the political opportunity structure in which its success has taken place.