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Italy Faces “Mass” Catastrophe as Catholics Turn to Pagan Gods of Rome

Updated: 5 days ago

A groundbreaking study is signaling the end of “Italian exceptionalism” in Europe as attendance at Holy Mass plummets to a catastrophic tipping point and heralds the accelerated decline of the Catholic Church in the traditionally-Catholic bastion.

The negative trend which has been underway for decades, is compounded by a spike in lapsed Catholics reverting to the gods of ancient Rome and turning to seers, astrologers and psychics, an industry that is estimated to have a turnover of an astronomical €8 billion.

While over three million Italians consult “maghi” (sorcerers) every year and 30,000 Italians seek out psychics and visionaries daily, the nation is witnessing a mushrooming of neo-pagan sects under the umbrella of the Roman Traditionalist Movement.

Church Militant obtained a copy of the study titled The Mass has Faded: Participation in Religious Rites in Italy from 1993 to 2019, authored by eminent sociologist Luca Diotallevi and published this month, which analyzes the de-Catholicization of the peninsula.

Diotallevi, who is professor at the University of Roma Tre, notes that “for a long time there has been talk of two major exceptions to secularization” in the Western world. “One exception was the United States, the other was Italy.”

This was reflected in the level of participation in religious rites, with both the USA and Italy proving the exceptionalism by bucking the Western trend of declining rates of attendance at Mass and demonstrating higher rates of participation in Church life, observes Diotallevi.

The sociologist argues that the lockdown of churches and the suspension of sacraments ordered by Pope Francis and the Italian Episcopal Conference, while accelerating the decline, was not a significant factor in the hemorrhaging of Mass attendance.

According to Diotallevi, the most significant period of shift in Mass attendance is between 1993 and 2019. "In 2019, the audience of Italian churchgoers was not only much smaller than it was in 1993 but compared to that period it had also changed profoundly in its composition and in the dynamics that concern it,” he writes.

Diotallevi points out that attendance dropped from 37.3% of the adult population present for Sunday Mass in 1993 to 23.7% in 2019. “Young people are those who attend the least and women, traditionally more ‘faithful’ than males, are walking out,” he notes.

In a book co-authored by Diotallevi and published in January, the authors lament the gross “biblical illiteracy” of Italian Catholics and warn that the consequences will be an inability to interpret the culture of the past that is a feature of the Italian landscape.

“How can we interpret sculptures and paintings that populate cities and countryside, understand expressions and idioms of popular and cultured language, move between calendars and festivals, if we lack the alphabet that generated and nourished them?” the authors ask.

“And how can we hope for interaction and coexistence with those who come from other religious worlds, if those who should welcome them are not able to explain what is at the origin of their own habits and customs?” they add.

Meanwhile, a 2023 survey conducted by the market research company SWG found that 34 per cent of Italians believe or engage in necromancy, 24 per cent in black magic, 19 per cent in predicting the future with cards, 18 per cent in white magic, and 17 per cent in psychic or occultic healers.

Italians disillusioned by Catholicism are reclaiming the pagan gods of ancient Rome through movements like the “Via romana agli dei” (Roman road to the gods) and the Communitas Populi Romani (Community of the Roman People).

The sects even offer its adherents a “guide to sacrifice” prescribing the role of the priest (sacerdotos) who is normally the male head of the family (pater familias) and the vestments he must wear when offering the cultic sacrifice.

In this case, the ritual sacrifice offered to the ancient Roman god Janus is conducted in Latin with prescribed words from ancient Roman texts and offerings of red wine and incense are burned before the deity.

“The Roman chooses to engage in a complex spiritual practice that requires care and dedication, the sentiment has not changed over the centuries and the Roman religion remains the religion of oath and duty,” the Communitas Populi Romani website explains.

Neophytes are encouraged to “set up a space dedicated to the deities in your home so that you can begin to offer to your gods” and to “ritualize following the main holidays that are remembered by the Kalendarium.”

Raven Grimassi book Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe (2000) offers readers instructions “so that you can cast spells and work with the powers of incense, oils, herbs, and candles.”

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against Italian Catholics dipping into the occult and the New Age movement. In July 2023, the pontiff cautioned Catholics to reject beliefs “in superstitions, such as magic, tarot cards, horoscopes and other similar things”, noting that “many, many Christians go to have their palms read.”

In a report published in the Catholic Herald, Latinist and Rome-based researcher Lorenzo Murone told this reporter that the Catholic Church in Italy was fighting a losing battle against such cults because of its unwillingness to engage in “intentional evangelism.”

“Rome never really did evangelism in Italy even in the past,” Murone says, explaining how the lack of pastoral care also led to defections from the Church. “To this day most professing Roman Catholics hardly know their parish priest’s name, and vice versa.”

Dr. Jules Gomes (BA, BD, MTh, PhD) is a biblical scholar and a journalist based in Rome.

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2,380 views7 comments


Thank you Jules , great article!


Some of what you describe was (is) very much like the Rosicrucians, mimicking Catholicism in some practices, but one cannot tell for certain who was first. No, I am not affiliated with them, and they have apparently ignored me since I disowned them on becoming Catholic. I find it interesting that you report Francis speaks out against the New Age movement, and yet some of those practices he condones. That painting of Supper at Emmaus by Carragvio got me to understand the biblical story from the Book of Acts, not so much vice versa. There is a depth in the art that just doesn't convey as well in the literary portion alone. I understand that Spain was once the…

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Caravaggio that is.😀


This is madness. I wonder to whom these types pray when in the proverbial 'foxhole'. That would show where their true beliefs lie, albeit possibly too late.

On a different note, it has been far too long hearing you report, Jules! It's good that you're still in the game. 'Cigar-Jack' from the boat. ;)

Replying to

Great to hear from you, Jack! Of course, I remember you and I still have a stash of the cigars we got from the Honduras! A very blessed Good Friday to you!


Mar 28

The problem is larger than that. As Fr. John Hardon pointed out, the old paganism has many gods. The neo paganism "the religion that first started hell" which is rampant across the entire globe has only one god... It's the religion of self adoration.

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I agree, its the obsession of likes and retweets and a culture of created narcissistic people. So much that its become almost normalised rather than a mental illness. The other issue is the vast movement of people with their own cultures, then those cultures are being added to the Christian societies. 30,000 per the article yet well over 100k have came from Africa, naturally they will come with their own customs and changing a life spent on a generational custom isn't easy.

Albiet we must try and help guide them towards empathy and love and biblical teachings. I have quite a few Africans living in my area and they are Christians, moreso than the western narcissistic youngsters and even adults…

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