European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom


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I Mercanti del Tempio is an academic book directed by Antonio Fucillo, containing various contributions of several professors. It has been published by G. Giapicelli Editore. Here is an excerpt of the book, the chapter on the finances of the Church of Scientology, written by Germana Carobene, fellow researcher in Ecclesiastical Law at Napoli University.

Translated excerpts from the book "I mercanti del Tempio" (Merchants of the temple)
You can buy the book (in Italian) here:

Chapter VI
Financial tools and means
of the Church of Scientology in Italy
Germana Carobene
SUMMARY: 1. Economical contribution and religious motivations. - 2. Qualification of “religious confession” from a tributary perspective. - 3. Relationship between economical-religious activities and fiscal regulations. - 4. Penal issues. - 5. Organization of Scientology in Italy. - 6. Final conclusions.
1 . Economical contribution and religious motivations
Within the scheme of the religious activities – those in which the rights of freedom are concretely practiced – an important sector is that formed by the different forms of economical intervention through which the subject/faithful participates to the organization and functioning of his group of affiliation. Many religious confessions, even those of ancient dating, foresee the obligatoriness of the payment of a “tax” for the participation to the community’s life and/or the payment of amounts of money for the utilization of certain performances.1 They need, in fact, economical means for their own upkeep, for the construction of places of worship and their maintenance, for the publication of books and information materials, for the support of members performing specific functions.
Despite their “deep differences, all religions give rise to complex provisions that orient and condition the ideals, the inner beliefs, the deep motivations and aspirations and the socially relevant exterior behaviors, from time to time imposing, forbidding or at least suggesting or advising against, the performance of acts far broader and numerous than the ones we use to consider worship acts” 2.
In modern societies, traditional typologies of religious denominations stand next to new figures/movements, with different modalities of interventions and management of the religious feeling, for which the detection of new juridical parameters respecting the right of freedom of religion of the individual and of the collectivity are needed, and of which the forms of funding may represent a natural objectification. One of the modalities of the performance of the individual’s freedom is, in fact, dependent upon the possibility of fully participating to the group’s life that, from a corporative viewpoint, can manifest itself with the will to take some services, even with fee, offered to the associates/participants or adepts/believers, whatever one wants to call them.

We then witness the arising of complex legal issues, clearly a consequence of an inadequate knowledge of the legislators, of modalities which are “different” from those traditionally known, despite the particular favor that our legal system grants to various forms of associationism, amongst which also, and most of all, those having a religious connotation3. But it is evident that the granting of special rights or privileges recognized and granted to these forms of spontaneous aggregation might favor fraudulent attempts. It is therefore necessary to detect sure parameters while ensuring, at the same time, that they do not mortify or repress excessively the rights of freedom.
The most common financial modality is notoriously that of the spontaneous donation with which the faithful participates to the community’s life, complying in the first place with a conscience obligation.  The element that characterizes this particular case in point is the “relationship between the specific interest of the one acting and the concrete outcome that he expects to reach, indeed through the performance of that particular act4. In that respect one can understand how specific actions are perceived by the subject, not only as mandatory, but also endowed of a much stronger and pregnant moral engagement than a binding legal enforcement. The objective that the individual set for himself can be tied to the fulfillment of an immediate wellbeing, but also to a spiritual or supernatural aim, not easily identifiable through legal means, even if legitimate beyond any doubt.
A particular sector is also represented by interventions which are not donations, where the subject/believer correspond an amount of money in exchange of the delivery of certain goods/services. Such amounts, within the movement, can be subjected to exact price lists, naturally susceptible to variations, in alignment with the typical mechanisms of the contractual deeds of private nature. The spiritual aim, cause of the contract, must be, in any case, the object of a precise juridical evaluation, for the fact that it represents one of the elements characterizing the specific provisions. Naturally, such relationships have to arise within a group/movement and be exclusively reserved to the followers, so to avoid that a tout court commercial activity is set up.
And it is in this particular contest that a variegated jurisprudence has been developed in the course of the years, most of all in relation to Scientology. The peculiar modalities of administration of its religious services structured as courses “with fee”, have induced some judges to deny the religious nature of the association and, consequently, any fiscal facilitation.  Such statements have been overturned more than once by the Supreme Body of Legitimacy (Supreme Court of Cassation) that, in the presence of the afore mentioned elements regarding the “delivery of services of religious nature only for the followers”, has underlined how the performance of an activity aimed to the raising of funds, necessary to the performance of the institutional activities of the entity, is not incompatible with the qualification of religious association.
2. Qualification of “religious confession” from a tributary perspective
            There are, therefore, peculiarly complex legal issues tied to these modalities of financial participation, typical of Scientology, a religious confession whose activity has been accompanied by several jurisprudential interventions, both on penal and tax grounds, with specific reference to the issuance of invoices for the delivery of goods and services, to the compliance with the provisions regulating book keeping, to end with the most serious hypothesis of the crime of fraud. Naturally, in the related variegated jurisprudential case study, the subjugation to the specific fiscal provision, foreseen for the religious associations, has dictated the need to evaluate, preliminarily, whether such a movement could fall under that religious connotation or if the general provision for the legal persons should apply.
To this regard, there are some decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Cassation, both on penal and fiscal grounds, which are particularly relevant, as they clarified multiple doubts of interpretation even though not succeeding, due to the lack of specific law references, to establish universally accepted criteria.
The starting point can be found in a decision of the Supreme Court, Penal Section, of 1997 5 that underlined the necessity to examine the profile of the religiosity of Scientology using the parameters outlined by the Constitutional Court in 1993 6, which established that, when asking for tax exemption as per Presidential Decree # 633/1072 and Presidential Decree #598/1973, it is not true that each single association defining itself “religious” can be the arbiter of its own taxability, because such a qualification must be assessed case by case according to the criteria inferable by the entirety of the provisions of the legal system, with reference to the actual nature of the entity and the activity concretely performed 8.
Such statements did not however succeed in providing precise criteria fit to evaluate the essence of the religious phenomenon and of the activities concretely qualifiable as such.
More incisive appears to be the arguments developed in the decision 195/19939, where the Constitutional Court, declaring the illegitimacy of some regional provisions granting certain subsidies for the construction of worship places only to confessions who had undersigned a Treaty with the State, specified that, lacking a Treaty, in order to recognize the confessional nature of a movement, one can refer to some guidelines: previous public recognitions, statute of the entity10 and common consideration.
From the words of the Court it emerges, however, the incompleteness of such criteria, explicated with the use of the adverb “also11, which leaves room to interpretation, and that’s why an actual assessment should be done on the statements contained in the statute so to evaluate whether the enunciations it contains correspond to the actual activities performed.
Based on a concrete analysis of the activities, and accepting the definition of religious confession as a “complex of relationships between Man and the Sacred”12, the jurisprudence ended up including in the broad genus of religion also the confession of Scientology. Factually13 the religious nature of the movement was recognized in multiple occasions, and in some instances also the Finance Police came to identical conclusions granting to the Church of Scientology the right to apply the provisions exempting the religious confessions14 from tax obligations.
In a decision issued in 1997 by the Tax Commission of Milano, it was opportunely underlined that the religious nature “is identifiable both in the statutory enunciations of the entity that align to the purely fideistic aims and to the diffusion of the creed practiced by its members or adepts, and in the modalities used to find the needed resources to pursue the ecclesiastic aims, typical of these associations and referable to enrollment fees, offers, donations, legacies, etc. , income that cannot be considered as an exchange for services or sale of goods, like in commercial activities” 15. Starting from this indispensable preliminary remark of principle, the performance of a commercial activity, even in the presence of a statute qualifying the entity as a religious and no profit one must be, therefore, the object of a concrete evaluation: an assessment of the activities actually performed becomes thus necessary. Only in the presence of a certain and actual analysis one will be able to apply art. 4 of the VAT discipline, and particularly its paragraph 4, which specifically exempts the services performed by religious associations for their associates, partners and participants, when done in alignment with their statutory aims16. Last relevant jurisprudential interventions on tax ground, have been two twin decisions issued by the Supreme Court in 2008, with which two appeals filed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance against Scientology were rejected, with the reiteration by the Court of the religious nature of the movement17.
3. Relationship between economical-religious activities and fiscal regulations
Also particularly interesting are the observations of the Tributary Section of the Supreme Court of 200018 that completely cancelled a decision issued by the Court of Appeals of Milano19. The latter had in fact denied the qualification of religious association to Scientology on the assumption “of the intense interest having a strictly commercial nature”, evident in its modus operandi, but also because “in order to have a religious association one needs to have that quid pluris which qualifies and justifies the economical operations performed and that must be researched indeed in the aims of spiritual improvement of the associates”20.
According to the Supreme Court, it has to be highlighted how “the assertion of the exclusively speculative and commercial nature of the activity concretely performed by the appealing entity, and described in the appealed decision, appears to be substantially apodictic and, in any case, not adequately substantiated, not having that judge clarified the reasons for which he decided to exclude that the mentioned activity, as far as the religious nature attributed to it by the author is concerned, can be seen as an integrant cession of goods and delivery of services to the associates and followers, performed in alignment with the statutory aims of proselytism and confessional practice of the author itself. It derives that one needs to examine the actual characteristics of the activities actually performed by the association but, and most of all, to analyze whether such qualities can results from the elements clearly indicated by the famous constitutional decision # 195/1993 21.
In his evaluations the judge must include the consideration that the search of economical means is needed for the functioning of the association and that the profits remain at disposal of the association, not being envisioned or implemented any distribution amongst the associates22. It is a known fact that, in order to distinguish the associations from the societies, the decisive factor is not the qualification of not recognized association given by the contractors, but the investigation of the substance of the act brought into existence. For an entity to be qualified a “society” it is needed that it pursues the purpose of dividing amongst its members the profits made, as per art. 2247 of the Civil Code 23. In our case, the statute of the Hubbard Dianetics Institute, not only does not foresees such distribution, but it also explicitly excludes it and it clarifies that, in case of dissolution of the association, its goods must be devolved to associations having similar aims. Naturally this does exclude the possible performance of commercial activities, provided that there is an evident for profit activity – objective or subjective one. The Statute articles, however, show a solely “idealistic” purpose, aimed to the achievement of a general betterment and an increased spiritual awareness of the associates. In such an instance, therefore, a selfish purpose is totally missing, nor the request of fixed contributions can justify the exclusion of an altruistic intent if it takes on the aspect of “reimbursements of expenses”, even if  calculated “in large amounts”24. It is also to be borne in mind that the delivery of goods/services is exclusively intended for the believers/associates; there is no trace of activities of delivery of services to the public in exchange of a fee, which would be a factor in qualifying an activity as a commercial one.
            The main nucleus of the rulings issued by Tax Courts is formed by the statement of principle according to which “the corporative entities are not considered commercial companies when the performances are rendered solely in favor of the associates, in conformity with the institutional aims laid out in the statute”25. The current law reference is article #87 of the Unique Text of the Taxable Income, Presidential Decree #917/1986, known as TUIR, which replaced article #2 of the Presidential Decree #598/1973 and that identifies as taxable subjects “the entities … private, which are different from societies … that do not have as their exclusive or main purpose the performance of a commercial activity”. The notion of commercial activity, as inferred by this same law reference at art. #51, which retrieved article #51 of the cited Presidential Decree of 1973, definitely excludes from it the association with religious orientation.
            The core of the problem is related the fiscal treatment of the performance of services against the payment of specifically determined contributions, but article #111 of TUIR, paragraph 3, clearly excludes that such performances can be considered having a commercial nature if executed in alignment with the institutional aims of the association and only in favor of associates or participants. Naturally the assessment of the inexistence of a commercial activity determines, as a consequence, the inexistence of the obligation of the bookkeeping and the filing of income tax returns.
It derives that for the performances of services – not part of the entrepreneurial activities – as per art. #2195 of the Civil Code, to be considered “not commercial”, there must be the concurrent existence of three conditions: the performances have to be rendered in conformity with the institutional aims of the entity; the lack of a specific organization; the contributions for the performances do not have to exceed the direct costs, i.e. they do not have to produce profit or richness27.
Also, it is important to underline the problem of the so called taxation for the “non corporate entities”, expression with which part of the doctrine28 has made a distinction amongst the subjects undergoing a corporate taxation. To this regard, it is noted that some of these subjects are in a midway position in the production of a profit meant for future and possible distribution to share holders, associates or participants; these are, therefore, entities which are instrumental to the achievement of a profit by third parties29. It is possible that some “not midway” entities can be owner of taxable profit, because nothing excludes that the profit produced can be utilized within the entity, for its institutional aims, “autonomous in respect to the commercial activity producing profit”30.
            In the evaluations of such issues it is important to verify, with particular attention, the content of the performance and not only in relationship with the do ut des – delivery of goods/services vs. amounts of money. The objective of the tax legislator is, in fact, that of granting financial facilitations to those associations that have a leading altruistic objective.  Article 111 of TUIR is in fact particularly profitable for those organizations that do not have the simple objective of delivering services to their own associates, but that characterize themselves as having an institutional sphere and different and additional aims not limited to the sale and performance of goods/services to the associates. In such an instance the profit produced can represent a financial leftover, not taxable, destined to the institutional activities of the entity itself.
            The delivery of services to the associates wanting to satisfy idealistic and spiritual necessities, within a well defined contest – because reserved to the members of the movement – allows to consider with greater attention the self-organizational momentum  compared to the commercial one, but it allows, at the same time, the overcoming of the remaining concerns of fiscal caution31.
            An evident dyscrasia exists between the positions usually advocated by the ordinary judges, who tends to deny to Scientology the qualification of religious association and to underline the commercial nature of its activities, and the opposite trend of the Supreme Court, which intervened on this point to underline, contrarily, the necessity of a more correct positioning of the case in point. For the Supreme Court there is not, in fact, a contradiction between the economical performances and the religious nature of the entity. The organization of courses, aligned with the institutional aims (sports for a sport organization, religious for a religious entity, etc.) for its own associates is to be considered legitimate, as it is a natural modality with which the institutional aim is achieved, and the payment of amounts of money does not contrast with the functional character of the association. This, obviously, within the limits in which there is a connection, where the performances are reserved to the associates and where there are no unrelated/different activities.
 On legal grounds, a different argument has been developed in regards to the Narconon centers, connected to Scientology, but specifically devoted to the assistance of people addicted to drugs. In such an instance the issue under discussion was the delivery of goods/services, because the fee paid as a contribution for the permanence in such centers cannot be configured as a membership fee, but should be more correctly considered a specific compensation existing because of a synallagmatic contract, with the consequence that “the service of room and board given by the Narconon community has to be considered a commercial activity32.
4. Penal issues
Examining the juridical issues having penal implications, these fall, with no doubt, within the typology of the crime of fraud. It is evident that if one denies the confessional nature of the movement, the juridical nature of both the activity and the juridical subject, changes. The first one is thus considered a mere commercial activity, aimed to the production of a profit, and the subject ceases to be an association and becomes an atypical commercial company. The consequences, from a penal viewpoint, are that all the assertions about the spiritual nature of services and activities degrade into trickeries and deceptions and for the Tax Office, the profit becomes taxable.
In the massive jurisprudence that concerned Scientology, the preliminary problem was tied to the possibility to fit into the qualification of the religious association category or, at least, of the cultural one. Such difficulties, as already remarked, can be easily overcome with a correct evaluation of the statutory definition of its institutional aims, along with an actual verification of the nature and aims of the activities concretely performed, with particular regard to the courses reserved to the adepts – auditing and training.
If such performances determine economical profit for the association, this element cannot affect the nature of its activity, due to the fact that the collection of funds, in exchange for services/cession of goods, is a common element of the associations, including those of religious vocation, and in that respect one cannot simplistically talk about “lucrative activity”33. As already underlined, in the perspective of tributary profiles, in fact, as per art. 4 of the Presidential Decree 633/1972 for the VAT and art. 20 of Presidential Decree 589/1973, then become art. 111 UIR and now art. 148 TUIR, the profit produced through the specific contributions of the partners, associates and participants for the performances of services given to them by the associations for their institutional aims, is not taxable, if these are associations of political, union, religious, artistic and sports nature. Same goes for the sale of publications done mainly to partners, associates or participants.
In the quoted penal decision #163/1995 of the Supreme Court, it was underlined that the public administration or, in case of controversy, the legal system bodies, must assess “if a group of people that qualify itself as belonging to a religious confession, actually has such qualities”. To these fundamental principles, as already underlined, one must add the punctual directives of the Constitutional Court, contained in the famous decision #195/1993, according to which “it is not enough for the appellant to qualify itself as a religious confession. Nulla quaestio when there is a Treaty with the State, but lacking this, the confessional nature can also be established by previous public recognitions, by a statute that clearly expresses its character or, in any case, by the common consideration”. The investigation of the judge cannot, or should not, be directed to an evaluation of the concept of “religiosity” of a movement, because it is not the religion or the religious feeling the object of the constitutional protection, but the freedom of each one to choose and practice owns faith34.
It is evident that the protection constitutionally offered by art. 19, implies that the religious association as such cannot be prosecuted, but this does not mean or could mean that the association does not commit crimes, or that it could establish itself to commit crimes using the “shield” of the religious belief, because if this is the case, it would commit the crime described at art. 416 of the Penal Code35.
We remark that, on penal ground, we must add to these issues, the necessity of applying the known principle according to which societas delinquere non potest and the certain and unequivocal detection of the subject for purpose of application of the penalty, obeying to the dogma of the imperativeness of acting in this determined sector of the law system36. These conquers of the penal code, entrenched in our legal culture since 18th century, seems to have been put aside in the last trial suffered by Scientology in France, in which, beside the personal responsibilities of some followers, it was envisioned the responsibility of the movement, or at least, of the national church as a whole37.
Such delicate issues represent, in a more broad analysis, the argument of the balance related to the limits to the freedom of religion and most of all to its practice, codified on a penal ground, but allow, in the case in point, to underline that an accusation against a legal person can be quite hazardous38 – mostly because related to a religious minority – that could seriously come into collusion with the rights of freedom granted in a democratic society.  As correctly underlined by the cited French decision, the starting point must be represented by the fundamental assumption that the single violations of the rights do not entail – and cannot entail – a tout court conviction of the religious doctrines which are the basis of the beliefs of the adepts. It not competence of the Court to evaluate the religious character of specific actions, but just if they could potentially fall in a category of facts having a penal relevance39.  In the subsequent development of its reasoning the Court abandons, however, such correct assumptions, to reach a global conviction of the movement and particularly of two legal persons structured in the organizing board of the French church.
It is evident that it does not have to be the religious or pseudo-religious context the object of a conviction, but the single and actual deviating “behaviors” specifically detected. Moreover it is natural that in the penal perspective, if the “religion” is not a juridical good protected by a secular legal system, there is no criminal case in point, in application of the note maxim nullum crimen, nulla poena sine iniuria.
In our country the penal convictions have only concerned physical persons, precisely detected. The last legal instance is that of the Court of Appeals of Cagliari that acquitted an executive of Scientology convicted in first instance to four years jailing for continued extortion40.
5. Organization of Scientology in Italy
In the specific evaluation of the Scientology confession, at least with reference to our country, is it a known fact that it is organized with the legal pattern of the no profit associations with religious character and it is therefore legally subjected to the regime of articles 36, 37 and 38 of the Civil Code, to which must be added the tax provision set for political, union and religious associations41. The basis of the single associations is a statute in which are expressly foreseen the means of funding of the group, represented by: a) membership fees and annual fees of the associates; b) the “differentiated contributions” of the believers to receive institutional services; c) compensations for the sale of books, publications, materials, recorded lectures and religious artifacts of Scientology; d) donations and heritages by associates or third parties, institutions or public or private entities. If the enrollment fees do not represent a relevant income of the balance sheet, the main income is represented by the “contributions” at point b), exclusively reserved to partners, associates o participants for the delivery of intellectual services differentiated based on the individual performances. It is preferable to use the composed term “differentiated contributions”, while the term “ price” is solely reserved to the payment of books42.
The concept of “contribution” includes, etymologically, a meaning of participation to a common purpose and it differentiates itself from the term compensation, because in such an instance the relationship between two subjects ends at the moment of the exchange of the good/service vs. money. The term contribution contains a quid pluribus because of the existence, within the group, of a common purpose and it’s only within the group that the offers of goods or services take place vs. amounts of money. In synthesis, when the contributor/believer pays an amount, not only he obtains a certain performance, but he also contributes to the collective purpose of his group of belonging, thus qualifying further the compensation as a contribution. Not necessarily a contribution has to exceed the market value of a certain good, but it is evident that some goods cannot be quantifiable/qualifiable simply using the market laws of the parameters43.
The headword “contribution”  is used because the payment is only done by the associates, with clear exclusion of extraneous third parties, and because we are talking about so called services extra commercium: the training – the study of the doctrine of Scientology – and the auditing – the spiritual counseling. Naturally, as they are contributions done in favor or of a movement/association the payment of the amounts is also, concurrently, a mean of participation to the achievement of the common purpose. And it is for this reason that the concept of “price” is reductive, same goes for the term donation in which the compensation is lacking, typical of the structural modalities of Scientology. The religious activities, in fact, for which a payment of amounts of money is foreseen, with precise price lists, represent a mandatory route for the Scientologist – the “bridge” – the objective of which “total freedom”, for the salvation of the individual and the collectivity.
The principle fulcrum of the activities of religious nature, with exact cost which varies depending on the level, is therefore the training and the auditing. The first one is divided in two sectors: Division 6 courses (the organizational structure of the Church of Scientology is divided in more divisions), which are preliminary ones and mostly related to the practical life improvement (to improve the ethics of the individual, ups and downs in life, to engage and maintain a marriage, courses related to the methodology of Dianetics, etc.) and Division 4 courses. Both types of courses are administered in classrooms called “academies” and they foresee the intervention, in the role of a supervisor, of a qualified member of the confession44. The auditing, definable as “spiritual assistance” is divided into several categories: self- analysis, Book one auditing, professional auditing, which in turn, is divided in three sub-categories: co-auditing; auditing administered by a Minister and solo auditing45.
Also the professional auditing is administered by an auditor and a believer, but in this hypothesis, that represents a more advanced level of spiritual advancement, one also use a special artifact called E-meter, that allows the detection of areas of spiritual sufferance and distress of the believer and, through the auditing, their elimination. The concept is that the spiritual improvement of the person depends indeed from the elimination of the engram (negativities) for the fact that deepest and true nature of the human being is that of spiritual being that with the auditing, gets progressively freed46. The auditing of this kind requires, for each hour, a full time engagement of the auditor and, part-time, of other four people. Along with the courses and materials is the main source of income of the Church. In the confessional structures delivering advanced spiritual counseling – but currently they are not present in Italy – the cost of the auditing is greater.
The last type of professional auditing is the solo auditing, done by the belier himself after having reached a well precise spiritual condition, called Clear, and for all the levels that follow – except for the spiritual level called OT IV and OT V, for which the spiritual counsel is again administered by an auditor. With OT it is mean a spiritual state above the Clear; all the level coming after this one, follow a precise sequence that, step by step, leads one to the eight level. The solo auditing does not have a cost; the only cost is represented by the supervision administered by specific religious personnel of the Church.
A non controversial source of income,  that does not have jurisprudential relevance, is that of the amounts of money received for the purchase of the books of Hubbard, also sold to the public. Other religious materials, represented by the courses packs, specific publications, lectures, etc and the E-meter itself, are instead given only to partners, associates and participants and they are considered extra commercium. The purchase of religious services comes about through an application on a pre-print form that is not related to the object of the service and does not contain indication of the amounts, but that underlines the religious and not commercial nature of the relationship. At the moment of the payment an invoice is released. To the specific performances correspond specific contributions for which details lists, also called “price lists”.
It is important to underline that specifically envisioned modalities of reimbursement exist for the believers who request it, because they do not intend to participate to the doctrine/continue their route in the movement any longer or because they have been expelled and sent out.
6. Final conclusions
The contractual modalities utilized by groups/movements with a religious connotation should then be analyzed with the prism of the religious interest, not an external but an internal aim of the subject’s activity, that structures and establishes the concrete legal position of the cases in point47. In such a hypothesis one has to preliminarily qualify the type of the performance, evaluate if these are donations, natural obligations or if, more correctly as it seems, if we are facing a payment and if this hypothesis can fall in the category of synallagmatic contracts, because of anomalous modalities of our religious feeling, but legally legitimate. It is obviously necessary to point out that the synallagmatic contract must keep into account the specificity of the performance – religious courses – and of the adhesion to a certain spiritual route also tied to the participation to a movement and not a simplistic “do ut des” relationship.
In the evaluation of a potential crime of fraud, one wonders if the trickeries can be detected, for the fact that, dealing with promises of self-improvement, of getting rid of negativities, superterrestrial life, etc, it is evident since the beginning that it will be quite difficult that the aim will be reached or anyway one will be needed to assess it. Another observation is that related to the fact that the price/payment of the courses is not tied to any objective datum and thus it may appear out of proportion compared to the cost of the performances. From a legal perspective of this crime, also, the demonstration of the intentional will is fundamental.  Not only it depends upon the material acts performed by the individual, but also from the awareness that the individual had at the moment of the actual action. It would then be necessary to demonstrate that, for example, the “personality test” is perceived as a “fraudulent tactic” in a subjective way, while it is instead known that for the adepts of Scientology is one of the tools used for proselytism, besides being a mean to verify their own religious advancement. It’s opportune to stress that this is not the only mean to have access to the confession, nor it is the only instrument of “advancement” within it. It is one of the methods used for religious proselytism – a free one – through which one leads the subjects to pose themselves questions and address to Scientology48. The test is, in fact, integrated in the practice of the doctrines of the movement and its purpose is to measure the personality, the level of self-awareness and the success in life.
It is evident that only a deviating behavior can bring about a potential criminal instance, and not the simple application of Hubbard’s doctrines. For the fact that one is addressing to a spiritual center – even taking into account the possibility that the subjects are not aware they are resorting to an actual religious confession – it goes without saying that they cannot claim a scientific approach tied to psychological or psychotherapeutic practices, but that they are asking for an assistance of spiritual and metaphysical nature49.
The problem of the compensation is interesting because it imposes an evaluation in the merit on the good sold and on the adequacy of the price “because in the case in point we are talking about goods (happiness, spirituality and things of this type) for which there are no criteria of evaluations to which one can refer to (a market), not being in circulation and in any case, for the fact that it would be inconvenient to adopt as a parameter the judge’s evaluation criteria; the only possible solution then would be that of sticking to the subjective evaluation of the parties”50.
And it is always important to reiterate that “in the execution of the financial contribution for religious aims, what comes into existence is a “liberal” will of the contributor that is not just pursuing the enrichment of the beneficiary of this act, but the achievement of the ultra-personal purposes of the activities of the confession or of the religious group51.  This principle is also valid in the hypothesis where the financial contribution corresponds to the performance of a spiritual service, because the subject/believer is not merely buying that, but he participates to the life of the movement he belongs to52, also from an economical viewpoint.
Such statements about liberality can be overlapped to the hypothesis of payment of spiritual goods/services. The payment of amounts of money is not simplistically devoted to the achievement of a personal objective, but it’s an integrating part of the participation to the collective life inside the movement. It is equally needed to underline that the possibility of a reimbursement of services that the subject does not want to attend anymore, envisioned by the statute, implies the automatic ousting from the group, because it is clear that its objectives are no more shared. This makes, thus, even more evident that the financial participation is not merely connected to the achievement of the good/service, but it entails the will of participation to a common plan, which has to be fully shared by the subject/believer.
 In such hypothesis one need to verify the qualification of the religious purposes that justify the act in its causal profile and therefore in the genetic moment, but also to verify the actual collective destination of what has been paid53.
The performance of legal/social acts may represent one of the forms of expressions of the personal identity with which one can claim – and which can be obtained – an adequate juridical relevance for the different cultural and religious forms54 that characterize the actions of single individuals and thanks to that open the road to the juridical recognition of a cultural expression to be situated in the broader genus of the fundamental rights. The religious factor can – and must – represent a positive experimentation of a modern objective pluralism – meant as an implicit recognition of a plurality of the fundamental values – within the categories of the civil law55.
Foot Notes
1.     The new codex juries canonici poses the spontaneous offer as the first one of the possible resources of the Church, whereby the previous codex of 917 was presenting in the first place the tax. For the fixed rights paid for the administration of the sacraments it replaces the old term taxae with that of oblationes/offers: see  P. VALDRINI Et al., “Droit canonique”, Paris, 1999, p. 567.
2.     S. FERLITO Le religioni, il giurista e l'antropologo, Soveria Mannelli, 2005, p. 72.
3.     Cfr. F. FINOCCHIARAO, Aspetti pratici della libertà religiosa in uno Stato in crisi, in Dir. eccl., 2001, I, page 3 and following ones of the same author, Scientology nell'ordinamento italiano, in Dir. eccl., 1995,111, p. 603 ss.; P. COLELLA, La disciplina di "Scientology " nell'ordinamento italiano, in Giur. it., 2000, V, p. 2446 ss. e N. COLAIANNI, La libertà religiosa secondo le confessioni "altre" (Testimoni di Geova, Buddhismo, Scientology), in A.A.W., La libertà religiosa, tomo 11, Atti del Convegno di Napoli, a cura di M. TEDESCHI Soveria Mannelli, 2002, p. 659 ss.; G. D'ANGELO, Nuovi movimenti religiosi tra (pretesa) uniformità di qualificazione e (reale) diversificazione dei relativi profili disciplinari: la Chiesa di Scientology nella più significativa giurisprudenza, in Dir. eccl., 2003,II, p. 710 ss. Cfr. P. CAVANA, Verso nuove forme di organizzazione religiosa nell'ordinamento italiano: le associazioni di promozione sociale con 'Finalità di ricerca etica e spirituale", in Dir. Eccl., 2003,2, p. 493 ss., for a reconstruction of the “no profit” sector.
4.     A. FUCCILLO Dare etico, Torino, 2008, p. 3
5.     Supreme Court. section  VI penal, 22 October 1997, both in Cd Juris Data, Sentenze della Cassazione Penale, testo integrale, 1995-1998 I° sem.
6.     Constitutional Court, decision 5 November 1992, n. 467, in
7.     See decision of the constitutional Court n. 195/1991, in, about the constitutional legitimacy of articles 20 Presidential Decree. n. 598/1973 e 4, paragraph 4, of Presidential Decree 633/1972 with reference to articles 3, 8, 53 of the Constitution: such provisions (based on which, the religious confessions not officially recognized by the legal system enjoy a general fiscal exemption) were endangering the principles of equity and contributive capability foreseen by the fundamental chart, for the fact that the treaties reserves to the latter a more restrictive treatment fiscal-wise, just limiting the exemption from tributary obligations with exclusive reference to the activities of religion, belief and charity, education. This argument was posed to the Constitutional Court by the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Torino, IV Penal Section, of 5 November 1996. The Constitutional Court, that intervened to examine this issue, with the already quoted decision of 5 November 1992, declared the argument not grounded, considering that the tax facilities granted to the confessions not officially recognized by the State had to be considered valid ex lege also in favor of religious entities that had undersigned a treaty. Articles 4 of the Presidential Decree 633/1972 and 20 of the Presidential Decree 598/1973, included in article 11 1 T.U. related to income taxes, contained in of the Presidential Decree 917/1986, that subject in matter of VAT and Corporate tax, considering them commercial activities, also the cession of goods and performance of services done in alignment with the institutional aims of political, union and sector, religious, charitable, cultural and sports associations. See N. COLAIANNI, Caso Scientology: associazione religiosa o criminale? in Foro it., 1995,II, 694. See also Supreme Court, sect. I civ., 29 March 1990, n. 2573 on Corporate Tax: «If from one side what’s important here is the activity performed and not the declared aim …. It is needed that in the statute the activity that the subject intends to perform, is exhaustively described and the object is clearly indicated », object that in the case in point had a religious appearance, under which an exclusively commercial activity was performed and illegally subtracted to the control, to the protection, to the discipline of the State, with the claimed existence of “superior” religious precepts.
8.     It is also important to underline that the religious associations and not the confessions enjoy, as per article 4 of the Presidential Decree are the object of fiscal facilitation. On such fundamental distinction also the Constitutional Court intervened and delineated a separation line with two decisions: # 195/1993 with which makes a distinction between confession and association with religious aims. Such difference, as this supreme body of constitutional control states, finds its positive juridical fundament in articles 5 and 19 of the Constitution: the first one, included in the “Fundamental Principles” and the other ones in the “Title of civil relationships: duties and rights of the citizens”. The subjects forming the associations are individually determined and they represent the beneficiaries of the provisions of articles 18 and 19 of the Constitution, they are not – nor could they be – the confessions generally defined.
9.     Constitutional Court, 27 April 1993, n. 195, in Foro it., 1994, I, 2986 ss. Note of comment by N. COLAIANNSI, Il concetto di confessione religiosa. See also G. DI COSIMO, Sostegni pubblici alle confessioni religiose, tra libertà di coscienza ed eguaglianza, in Giur. cost., 1993, p. 2165 ss.; G. CASUSCELLI, Ancora sulla nozione di "confessione religiosa": il caso Scientology, in Quad. dir. pol. eccl., 1998,111, p. 809 ss.; R. ACCIAI, La sentenza  n. 195 del 1993 della Corte Costituzionale e sua incidenza sulla
restante legislazione regionale in materia di finanziamenti all'edilizia di culto, in Giur. cost., 38, 1993, p. 2 151 ss.; G. DI COSIMO, Alla ricerca delle confessioni religiose, in Dir. eccl., 1998, I, p. 42 1 ss.
10.   Based on its statute, regularly recognized by the Italian State, Scientology is an association defining itself “Church of  Scientology” that intends to perform essentially spiritual activities: see Opinion # 767 of 10 May 1989 issued in advisory meeting by the State Council and published in Quad. dir. pol. eccl., 1990, p. 940 ss.
11.   In decision # 195/1993 one in fact reads that the admission to the benefits “nulla quaestio when there is a treaty with the State. Lacking this, the nature of confession can be evidenced also by previous public recognitions, by the statute clearly expressing its character or, anyway, by the common consideration”. (S 5).
12.   P. BELLINI, Confessioni religiose, in Enc. dir., vol. VIII, Milano, 1961, p. 926. With reference to legal precedents, see Cassation Penal Section VI of 22 October. 1997, # 1329, in Foro it., 1998, 11, p. 6 ss. and Courts of Appeals of Milano, I penal section 5 October 2000, # 4780, in Giur. it., 2001, I, 11, p. 1408 ss. With a comment of P. COLELLA, Ancora a proposito di 'Scientology'; Civil Supreme Court, Tributary Section, 22 October 2001, # 12871 partially reproduced on Corriere giur., n. 1, 2002, p. 41 ss., followed by a comment of  P. COLELLA, Sul carattere 'religioso' dell'Associazione di Scientology (p. 44 ss.). See also R. SARACINO, Scientology fra libertà religiosa e diritto comune, in Dir. eccl., 2001,II, p. 112 ss.
13.    See decision of the Courts of Trento, Bolzano, Milano, Lecco, Bergamo, Monza, Novara, Roma, Nuoro. In the first decision on this issue the Court of Lecco, Penal Section, 23 October 1991, unpublished, it is underlined that due to its religious nature, the association was not bound to the obligation of the book keeping. See Tax Commission of First Instance, Roma Section VIII, 23 March 1996, # 4600/95, partially published in  Giurisprudenza di merito, 2, 1997, p. 395 followed by a brief comment of  M .A. MILONE, Associazioni con scopi esclusivamente filosofico - religiosi: regime tributario, p. 396 ss. See also Tax Commission of Second Instance of Como, Section V, # 1771/1995 of 30 May 1996; Tax commission of II Instance of Bergamo, Section V, and # 257 of 1 March 1996, all unpublished. Also the assessment done by the Finance P0olice had underlined that the activity of the Association was tied to the performance of religious services to its associates/participants.
14.   See Minutes of the Tax Police of Ravenna of 7 February 1994, not published.
15.   Decision of the Tax Commission of Milano, Section #60, of 28 May 1997, unpublished. In this decision it is underlined that “if this is true in principle, the performance of the commercial activities, even if at the presence of a statute that qualified the entity as no profit and religious in nature, as res facti, must be the object of a case by case assessment …. Therefore the actions of assessment of the actual activity must therefore start from the claims done by the Finance Police against the association”. (Page 7 of decision.).
16.   A decision of the Tax Commission considered being able to “align with the prevailing and consolidated jurisprudential orientation … according to which the activity performed by the appellant /Scientology) is religious-cultural in nature and, thus, not commercial, with the consequent effects ---- of lack of obligation of invoicing and payment of VAT on the sale of goods and services done by the adherents”: Regional Tax Commission of Milano, 8 March 2002, unpublished, which concludes that “ the religious nature of Scientology, lacking a definition of the concept of religion in our legal system, has to verified on the bases of different indexes, as stated by the Constitutional Court, such as previous public recognitions, the Statute, the common consideration.”
17.   Decisions of the Civil Supreme Court, Tributary Section, 17 June 2008, #16345 and #16346. In the first one it is underlined that in order to religious qualification of the Association of Scientology there are already legal precedents from previous decisions that, in penal seat, acquitted all the defendants from tax crimes. It is also underlined that the religious nature of an association does not exclude the performance of a commercial activity by the same entity, mostly with regards to the delivery of goods and serviced reserves to the associates. The Supreme Court brings up how, once again, the Second Instance judges have apodictically denied the religious nature of the association, neglecting to execute a deep and detailed analysis about the activities it actually performed, with particular attention to those deriving by a comparison with the statute bylaws, to which they are instrumentally related. With a similar reason the Civil Supreme Court, Tributary Section, 29 January 2002, cancelled a decision, # 58/11/98 of 30 September1998 in which the Tax Commission had convicted the Association of Scientology, reaching the conclusion that the activity performed was commercial and the nature of the association not a religious one. The Supreme Court however considered that the judges of the Second Instance, with a scarce and contradictory reasoning, had violated article 4 of the Presidential Decree # 633/1972. Identical decision of the Civil Supreme Court, Tributary Section of 29 January 2002, # 1098 and Civil Supreme Court, Tributary Section of 22 October 2001 # 12871.
18.   Supreme Court, Tributary Section, 22 October 2001, #12871, with a comment of LUPI, Spunti sulla tassazione delle associazioni e sulla compatibilità tra loro carattere religioso ed effettuazione di prestazioni a pagamento degli associati (nota a Cass., n. J2871/2001), in Riu. dir. trib., 2002, 2, p. 144 ss.
19.   Court of Appeals of Milano, III Penal Section, 5 November 1993. The central issue was that of tax obligations. The structure of Scientology was claiming its religious character and the consequent applicability of the fiscal provisions for the religious associations. Such aim was expressly envisioned in its statute. See art. 2, of the Presidential Decree of 29 September 1973, # 598 confirmed by art. 87 of the Presidential Decree of 22 December 1986, # 917 according to which “the exclusive or main object of the entity is determined by its incorporation papers, both existing as a public deed or as a private certified agreement and, lacking any of them, on the basis of the activity actually performed.”
20.   Hypothesis that does not exist in the case in point where “the speculative intent is dominant … and the profit purpose is a priority to a degree that the consistency and quantity of the financial operations performed have surely exceeded any other aim, this acquiring such a relevance, prominence and autonomy to be put forward the profit purpose to any other potential plan (also spiritual or religious).
21.   It is moreover important to reiterate that the qualification of “non commercial entity” cannot be canceled, even taking into account the possibility that our legal system grant to the same subject the possibility to perform a commercial activity. Based on article 20 of the Presidential Decree#. 598/1973 or article 111, of the Presidential Decree #917/1986, in fact, “they have to be considered performances of commercial activities also the delivery and sales of goods to partners, associated or participants vs. the payment of specific or supplementary compensations, determined on the basis of greater or different performances to which they are entitled.”
22.   Very clear and accurately described all these considerations in the quoted decision of the Supreme Court, Tributary Section, # 15363/98, 13 October 2000.
23.   To this regard more times the jurisprudence has expressed its opinion: Supreme Court 6 August  1979, # 4558, in Foro it., Rep., 1979, voce Società, n#128; Supreme Court 22 February 1979, #, ivi, 1979, # 136; Supreme Court 27 February 1976, # 639, in Giust. civ., 1976, I, p. 895; Supreme Court 6 October 1972, # 2895, in Foro it. Rep., 1972, voce Società, # 138; Supreme Court 26 November 197 1, #3448, in Giust. civ., 1972, I, p. 527. Also see the doctrine and for all F. GALGANO, ‘Le società in genere. Le società di persone’, Milano, 2007, who specified that if the contract occurred amongst different people to discipline the performance of a common activity excludes any division of the profits, or if in the contract it is stated that the parties are exclusively motivated by idealistic aims, one must exclude the existence of a commercial relationship, because article 2247 of the Civil Code considers societies just the collective company performed with the purpose of a division of the profits (see particularly page 39).
24.   W. BIGIAVI, La professionalità dell'imprenditore, Padova, 1948, p. 96 note 30.
25.    This expression is present in the Court of Appeals of Roma, I Penal Section of 3 July 1995, # 2574; a comment to this decision was done by A, PERINI, Enti non commerciali di tipo associativo ed omessa dichiarazione dei redditi, in Il Fisco, 26, - 1996, p. 6321 ss.
26.   To such provision the analysis of the dictate of articles 108 e 111 of TUIR can be added, such articles disciplined the determination of the profit for the non commercial entities having an associative nature. Article 108, paragraph 1, second part, underlines that “cannot be considered commercial activities the performances of services not falling under article 2195 of the Civil Code when done in alignment with the institutional aims of the entity without a specific organization and toward the payment of amounts that do not exceed the direct costs” and article 111, paragraph 1, specifies that “it is not considered a commercial activity that performed for the associates or participants, in alignment with the institutional aims, by the associations … and by other non commercial entities of associative nature” and in the second part of this same paragraph it is excluded that the amounts paid by the associates as fees/contributions contribute to form up the profit of the association”.
27.    See Supreme Court, Section I, 8 September 1999, #9529, in Corr. tributi, 2000, #2, page 182 ss. “One can peacefully verify that the associates perform duties in favor of the association, but not aimed to its survival or the institutional aims, but rather to obtain services aimed to satisfy personal interests: in such a case it is correct to qualify such activity as a commercial one. And therefore it is possible that the non commercial entities perform institutional activities and commercial activities, with the consequent need of an exact distinction of the single operations related to one or the other of the activities”. See MAZZELLA, Quando una associazione religiosa esercita attività commerciale, in Giur. merito, 2000, 6, p. 1291.
28.   A. PROTO PISANI, La fiscalità degli enti non societari, Torino, 2001, particularly p. 185.
29.    See L. CASTALDI, I rapporti economico patrimoniali tra associati e associazione nella disciplina delle  imposte dirette e nell'IVA, in AA. W., Il regime fiscale delle associazioni, by A. FEDELE, Padova,  1998, p. 63 ss.
30.   R. LUPI, Spunti sulla tassazione, cit . , also underlines that “the profit relevance can in any case be conceptually excluded, regardless of any facilitation intent, in the hypothesis where the associates satisfy, all together, through the association, their own personal need of culture, sports activity or, like in the case in point in the decision, spirituality. This explains the ration, halfway between facilitation and the specification of the concept of profit meant in article 111 TUIR” (p. 144).
31.   In that same meaning, in relation to another local sear of the “church of Scientology” see Provincial Tax Commission of Ravenna, 20 December 1999, # 183, unpublished. We have thus to highlight the complete synchrony if the previous decision of the Supreme Court, 27 February 1997, # 1753, that had reviewed the different hypothesis of a religious association (Jehovah’s Witnesses) that was distributing publications with fees to non associates, knocking door to door with pamphlets, Bible editions and similar things. In this case the Supreme Court had excluded the applicability of the provisions on the associations, reiterating the profit nature of such income.
32.   Regional Tax Commission of Emilia Romagna, Section IX, with comment on Il Fisco, 8, 22 February 1999.
We observe in another ruling that “it becomes clearer and clearer the intention of the tax legislator of assessing the commercial or non commercial nature of the entities on the basis of actual parameters and not on merely formal ones, and of preventing the risk of a fraudulent use tax-wise, of aims socially aims that could socially be defined as no profit ones. This is far more relevant for the religious aims: for these ones, in fact, the legal system inhibits, secularly, any intrusive evaluation of the merit; but concurrently reserves itself to assess whether under the untouchable shield of freedom of religion actually a profit activity, of fiscal interest, is prospering. Supreme Court, Penal Section III, 16 December 1999.
33.   See Court of Novara, 19 November 1992, # 231/1/88, unpublished page  6: decision of Judge of Preliminary Hearing of “no case” for omitted invoice and book keeping; dissimulation of activity: utilization of invoices for nonexistent operations, for omitted membership book and inventory book. Legal precedents: Court of Lecco, 12 December 1991, # 256/91. Similar case, Court of Nuoro, 10 November 1993, # 220/92, also ruled as “no case”. Also in such a hypothesis, based on the consideration of its religious nature, the entity was considered not falling under the provisions of Corporate Tax and VAT tax. Same, Court of Bergamo, 15 November 1994, #1111/88.  Interesting and similar reasoning issued by the Court of Roma, 30 March 1995, #17213/90, that states that, in order to evaluate the religiosity of the association one needs “not to abide to the interpretation given in more than one occasion by the Ministry of Finance (i.e. that such an entity falls within the category of the private institute of education without a recognition) for the fact that reading its statute and seeing the type of activity performed it derives that the aims pursued (surely lacking any profit purpose) are essentially religious ones”. Similar cases: Court of Monza, 20 March 1995, #1466/90; Court of Appeals of Roma, I Penal Section, 3 July 1995, # 421/92.
34.   For a reconstruction of the judiciary events, see M. MORRA, Il "caso" Scientology. Associazioni non riconosciute religiose: aspetti giuridici - fiscali e processuali, in Dir. civ. e proc. civ, .I, 4,2000.
35.   See Supreme Court, United Civil Sections, 17 December 2002, #18015, in Giust. civ. Mass., 2002, 2207.
36.   With reference to such principle, see, in the Italian experience, the notorious decision of the Constitutional Court, 8 June 1981, #96, published in Giust. pen., 1981, I, C. 226 ss.; in Riv. it. dir. proc. pen, 1981, p. 11 47 ss. With a note of M. BOSCARELLI, A proposito del “principio di tassatività”, p.1147 ss.; in Giur. cost., 1981, p. 806 ss. With note of  P.G. GRASSO, Controllo sulla rispondenza alla realtà empirica delle previsioni legali di reato, p. 808 ss.; in Dir. famiglia 1982, p. 311 with note of  F. DALL'ONGARO, L’illegittimità costituzionale del reato di plagio, p. 3 11 ss.
37.   Decision of 27 October 2009, Tribunal Correctionnel, de Paris, XII chambre, # 835623 114 C. Association Spirituelle de 1'Eglise de Scientologie, S. SEI, et autres, unpublished, commented by CAROBENE, Le minoranze religiose tra normativa penale e diritti di libertà: rilievi a margine di una recente sentenza di Scientology, in Atti Convegno Laicità e dimensione pubblica del fattore religioso. Stato attuale e prospettive, 17-18 sett. 2009, being printed and in
38.   On the general concept see M. BASILE, A. FALZEA, Persona giuridica, in Enc. dir., vol. XXXIII, Milano, 1983. In Italy a legislative decree, 8 June 2001, #231, has introduced in our legal system the penal responsibility of societies for the commission of illegal deeds – in their own interest and advantage – by people who operated inside the organization of these societies.  It did not take into account only the activities that imply the commission of crimes but also those which came about due to a defect of organizational control by subjects at the top. We are faced with instances of fault, traceable back to the entity’s responsibility just in those cases where it is not able to prove that it has either enforced and applied an adequate system of prevention and protection to avoid the commission of crimes at the top, and also has established an autonomous body of control entrusted with all disciplinary and surveillance powers. The measure has represented important news in the field of Italian law, because it definitely gets rid of one of the key principles of our legal system, tracing back to Roman Empire law system and covered by the famous Latin maxim societas delinquere non potest. In fact, differently from the systems of Common Law, which recognize since time the responsibility of the entity and the figure of the corporate crime, still today the continental legal systems remain generally tied to the Roman principle of the individual penal responsibility, “even if they feel the need to introduce, against the society, appropriate measures to hit corporate criminality”, F. MANTOVANI Diritto penale, p.g., Padova, 1988, particularly p. 146. And in fact a recent amendment of the French penal code introduced the responsibility of the legal persons, both in autonomous way, that as cooperation with the physical people acting on their behalf.
39.   For the fact that the relationships in penal law always imply a psychological investigation, it seems difficult to detect in the moral entity one that has a legal relevance for the penal law. That’s why the penal code of 1930 was excluding this capability for the legal persons and in the Ministerial Report (I, 243) one read: “one can assert that our positive law, at least as a rule, does not recognize to the collective entities the quality of subject with penal relevance”. The principle of personal penal responsibility has been made into a constitutional principle (art. 27 paragraph 1 constitution), but from a common law viewpoint, even if a specific provision is missing in the penal code and in compliance with the directives of the Constitution, the principle is considered as a derivation of article 197 paragraph 1, that only envisions a civil obligation of guarantee of the legal person in the case when the person representing or administering it, commits a crime: see F. MANTOVANI, Diritto penale, cit., p. 149. It is of interest to quote a decision of the Trib. Correct. Paris, 3 July. 1982, unpublished but mentioned by  C. DUVERT, Sectes et droit, Presses Universitaires d'Aix-Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, 2004 p. 225, note 17: “les dirigeants de l'association (l’Eglise  de Scientologie) ne cachent pas que les 'rentrée d'argent'sont essentielles pour la survie de leur organization” and underlining that “n’en résulte pas pour autant que cette organisation ait une finité commerciale les mentalités anglo-saxonnes étant, à cet régard, très différentes des mentalités latines et la réussite financière étant considerée comme le principe de base du succès de tout groupement fut-il religieux”.
40.   Court of Appeals of Cagliari, Penal Section, #545 of 13 May 2010, unpublished.
41.   Based on the Presidential Decree 22 December 1986, article 87, the Hubbard Institute qualifies itself as not falling under the corporate tax obligation as “ not a commercial entity” and also article 111, according to which in matter of religious associations “are not considered the performance of a commercial activity … the sale of goods and the delivery of paid services when done in alignment with the institutional aims, for its own associates or participants”: See what reported in the decision of the Court of Novara, 19 November 1992, unpublished.
42.   As far as the Italian associations are concerned, the contributions done by the believers to purchase institutional services and materials are the major and main source of funding, The only exception is the National Church of Scientology because it does not deliver religious services to the believers and it is mainly supported by the contribution of the major Italian association (Milano).
43.   In 1993 in the USA the IRS (the American tax office) had verified that the contributions set by the Church of Scientology for the services and the goods were only allowing the coverage of all costs.
44.   The contributions are differentiated and there is a list of contributions. The division 6 courses cost an average of 180 – 200 euro; the Division 4 courses cost an average of 800-1,400 euro.
45.   The first modality, the Self Analysis, is a type of auditing done by the believer by himself utilizing specific lists of items and the system of utilization contained in the book. Self-analysis produces betterments and can raise the spiritual tone of the person but does not allow progress much further on the Bridge. The cost corresponds to the price of the book. The Book One auditing envisions the participation of an auditor that could be incorrectly defined as a “Minister of the Faith” that helps the “preclear”, i.e. the believer, that hasn’t yet reached the state of “clear” to achieve a spiritual improvement objective. Such activity is based on the methodology described in “Dianetics” published in 1950 and indicated as “Book One”, and it is practiced in intensives of 12,30 hours each, for a contribution of approximately 200 euro.
46.   Amongst the various under-categories into which the professional auditing is divided, the first one is represented by the co-auditing, which a mutual auditing between two believers who follow specific courses, who study together and receive in alternative way the counseling. In this case there is not an amount to pay for the auditing but just for the specific courses to follow. Other instance of professional auditing is that administered. It is also done with periods of spiritual counseling of 12, 30 hours and each one of them costs 1,000 – 1,500 euro in the Italian Churches.
47.   Such concepts have been effectively underlined by A. FUCCILLO, Dare etico, cit., page 6, even if with reference to the donations: “The relationship between spirit of liberality and religious interest should be perhaps re-read and reinterpreted underlining the incident the second has on the first one, i.e. considering the religious interest not as an external aim, but as a trait of internal connotation. It could be said, in essence, the acting for liberality and its subsequent juridical positioning” but the analysis of the association could be well adapted to our case in point. On the analysis conducted in the United States in regards to selfish, transcendent altruistic motivations of the “religious donations”, see bibliographic indication at page 29 of S. BERLINGO’, Enti e beni religiosi in Italia, Bologna, 1992.
48.   On the brochure of the test, published in Le procès de L’Eglise de Scientologie, Paris, 1997, one reads, in the last page of the test that it should be sent to the Centre Hubbard de Dianétique, with the specification, at the bottom, that it is a department of the Association Spirituelle de 1'Eglise de Scientologie (p. 184).
49.   In the religious services enrollment forms one reads that “the aim of Scientology and all its religious services --- it to help the follower to increase for themselves and for the ecclesial community the awareness of the spiritual nature of the human being; to improve own spiritual relationships with oneself, the universe and other forms of life, and the infinity and to reach the complete spiritual freedom for self and all the rest (point 1) and that “the church does not make claims and does not authorize anybody to promise, and much less to guarantee, from the practice of Scientology, physical, spiritual, social or any kind of betterment gains. (point 3)
50.   Court of  Roma, fraud and circumvention o fan incapable person, 17 September 1985, unpublished, in which it is also underlined the dangerousness of the influence of the judge on “issues and sphere of activities which are lacking any penal relevance” not only quoting the religious affiliation phenomena  but also those of collectivism (!): see page 11 of the decision.
51.   A. FUCCILLO,  Dare etico, cit., p. 123.
52.   It is underlined that the liberal act becomes then an act of solidarity - ethical in its classic meaning - and that its outcome does not either belong to whom made it possible with his work or to those who deal with the object directly, but at all effects, to the entire collectivity. The gratification of those who acted remains that of a prevailing moral nature and represents an example of concrete performance of his freedom”: A. FUCCILLO, Dare etico, cit., p. 131.
53.   “The entire support system (fiscal provisions) towards these forms of active participation is based on the worthiness  of the aims pursued and translated in the achievement of works benefitting the entire collectivity”
A. FUCCILLO, Dare etico, cit., p. 132.
54.   M. RICCA, Diritti della coscienza, identità personale e multiculturalismo, in AA.VV., Studi in onore di Anna Ravà, by C. CARDIA, Torino, 2003, p. 672 ss.; N. COLAIANNI, Eguaglianza e diversità culturali religiose. Un percorso costituzionale, Bologna, 2006 particularly p. 30 ss.; the same author in another passage had underlined that “the religions crowd the political sphere with their different views of the world, they become cultural components, they act as moral or cultural entrepreneurs with their own identity to safeguard and promote. The worship places emptied by the secularization prompt them to find room in public places, to highlight more than the belief, the belonging”. (p. 9).
55.   S. TALONE, Diritto privato globale, objective pluralism e libertà di religione, Soveria Mannelli, 2006 particularly from page145.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Sunday, May 26th 2013 | Comments (0)

By Patriarchate Bartholomew :

Protocol. No. 441
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plentitude of the Church: Grace and Peace from God
“Blessed is our God, who so deemed” and orders all things for all people, who has led us to “this day of the Resurrection” when “all has been filled with light, heaven and earth alike.”
This year marks the 1700th anniversary since the issue of the Edict of Milan about religious freedom. Therefore, we are communicating to the Church in all places and times in order to address a message of hope, love, peace and optimism from the most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne in as much as the Church is the continual presence of God. “Whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father” (John 4:9), and whoever has seen the institution of the Church has seen the divine-human Lord and the Holy Spirit, who are with us.
The Church is precisely such an institution in freedom. “Such is Christianity: it grants freedom to those in slavery.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily IX on 1 Corinthians 193).
As a result of the Edict of Milan, the persecutions against Church and religion, previously licit, ceased; and for the first time in human form, freedom of religious conscience was instituted in the world. However, the freedom that Christ granted us (see Gal. 5:1) is not mere “form” and “letter”. It is genuine freedom, which we are always seeking in order that all things may become “new.” Otherwise, how can we possibly expect a new heaven and a new earth?
Until the time of Constantine the Great, the history of the world, namely the period of “Old Israel” before Christ, and after the divinely incarnate presence of the “New Israel,” the free expression of conscious faith is replete with problems and persecutions to the point of martyrdom by blood for the sake of truth.
History recounts the persecution of individuals who shared a different perspective and faith about God from that proclaimed by the worldly authorities or the society, which they inhabited.
The Old Testament refers to the world leader, King Nebuchadnezzar and the creation of a large image of his person, which he demanded that all of his subjects should worship by bowing down before it.
“The three holy children” were cast into the fiery pit because they refused to worship the idle of Nebuchadnezzar. They refused to render the status of divinity to a secular ruler, which he claimed for himself. St. Solomone and the Seven Maccabean children were persecuted with martyrdom alongside their teacher Eleazar. The fiery pit publicly rejected the authority of Nebuchadnezzar and foreshadowed the mystery of our all-holy Theotokos, by rejuvenating and preserving the three children unharmed, just as the fire of divinity preserved the Virgin Theotokos.
The captive children, who refused to worship the irrational and arrogant human ruler claiming the features of God, cried out aloud in the pit: “let all God’s works praise the Lord.” In so doing, they prefigured the freedom brought by the Lord, “who became as one under the law so that he might win those under the law.” (see 1 Cor. 9:20)
In ancient Athens, the Philosopher Socrates was condemned to death on the charge that he accepted the gods worshipped by the city. Similarly, there are many individual persecutions recorded by the classical Greek authors about those who supported different beliefs, such as the example of the persecution of Anaxagoras of Clazomene, who claimed that the sun is a fiery rock, or Diagoras of Milos, who criticized the ancient idolatrous mysteries and discouraged citizens in these.
There is not doubt that physical or ideological persecutions through the centuries, which sometimes led and continued to lead to death by martyrdom, nevertheless did not abolish religious tolerance among people, as this was formally proclaimed in the Edict of Milan.
The Roman emperors had an absolutist mentality, rendering themselves leaders even of religion. Indeed, they reached the point of demanding recognition for their divine status, which required equivalent honor.
The rejection of Christians of such imperial demands provoked anger in as much as it questioned imperial authority. The result anthropocentric worldview was the well-known merciless persecutions, which filled many shrines with martyrs who “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” (Rev. 7:14)
Ultimately, the persecutions against religion affirmed the words of St. John Chrysostom: “One who fights against God can never destroy good to the end; instead, such a person may perhaps not feel that he is doing something terrible at the outset of his daring act. However, if he persists in his madness he can never lay a warring hand on God, because he will never avoid the hand of the invincible God.” (To those Opposed to the Monastic Life 1, PG 47.319)
Emperors Constantine the Great in the East and Licinius in the West accepted the fact that, after three centuries of harsh persecution against the Christians, religious hatred and constant oppression resulted in no benefit for the empire. Therefore, they decided to allow Christians the freedom to practice their faith and worship of God. The content of the ever-relevant Edict of Milan in the 313 AD, which reflects the will of Constantine the Great, “who understood the craft of bitter warfare,” constituted the basis of the freedom of religious conscience that was recognized many centuries later.
The Edict of Milan contains advanced positions on religious freedom, expressed in thirteen sections. It institutes principles which are foreign for that period of the fourth century but which still remain principles and signposts, even if some claim that these principles can also be fully applied in a world that lies in evil and in justice, where darkness prevails instead of righteousness and light.
The Edict confesses and declares: respect for the thought and will of every person to care for the divine affairs as he wills; regard and respect for the divine and freedom of choice in religious matters to Christians and all people without discrimination; the return without delay to the community of Christians, the Church and the Synod of places of worship and other assets which were seized and taken from them; and all these things in order that “the divine care, which protects us and which we have already experienced in many situations, may remain securely with us forever.”
This Edict and the consequent reformations of Constantine the Great introduced to the world the concept of human rights. For the first time the above-mentioned values were established: respect of religious tolerance, freedom of expression of religious conscience – values of human life – and all such values, which comprise the basis of the relevant legislation that is valid today and the various contents of occasional declarations by international organizations and state bodies.
Constantine the Great, who received his vocation from above, embraced all people, citizens and faithful, believers and unbelievers, thereby becoming a servant of the peaceful welfare and the salvation of all humanity. From his time onward, the Church of Christ transfigures institutions and regenerates the world, precisely as the burning bush on Mt. Sinai that was not consumed, the Womb that contained the uncontainable, namely Life in order that we may have life. (see John 10:10)
If we carefully observe the history of the world since that time, especially today, after 1700 years from the declaration of the Edict of Milan by Constantine the Great, we sadly ascertain that the various regulations about religious freedom have unfortunately been violated on numerous occasions in the past, not only against Christians, but sometimes even by Christians themselves against their fellow Christians and against the adherence of other religions.
Regretfully, when Christians became the majority within society, there were some instances of overzealous tendencies. One of the more contemptible instances of such spiteful conduct among Christians was the great schism and division of the One Church, which ignored in later generations that “Christ is not divided” (1 Cor. 1:13) and that we humans are “earth and ashes.” (Sir. 10:9) We overlooked and continue to overlook the aguish of the division of the seamless garment of the Lord, the Church, both locally and in every parish as One, Catholic, and Apostolic. Thus, as another “furnace of evil” (Prov. 16:30), we no longer enjoy love, peace, and tolerance; nor do we ask ourselves and one another the crucial question: “shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just” (Gen. 18:25) for us as well?
Last century, the Orthodox Church in particular was persecuted relentlessly by the atheist regime and other states, which depended on this regime ideologically, especially in the countries of Eastern Europe. In some countries, Christians are still, to this day, treated with great disfavor, despite the fact that many international treaties have now been universally recognize the right to religious freedom.
The relevant reports on religious oppressions by the appropriate international organizations are replete with specific examples of religious oppression against Christian religious minorities in particular as well as individual Christians.
To this very day, unfortunately, we must emphasize that religious tolerance and freedom of worship are an achievement of civilization. There are vast regions of the world that are inhabited by people, who do not tolerate a different religious faith from theirs. Religious persecutions continue to exist, even if they do not assume the same form as persecutions of the early Christians. Various unfavorable discriminations against adherents of several religious faiths still persist and are sometimes intensely oppressive. In many cases, religious fanaticism and fundamentalism prevail, so that the Edict of Milan is still relevant in our times and addresses those people, who, despite the passing of 1700 years since its declaration, have yet to apply it completely.
As we observe the journey of humanity from this sacred Center of Orthodoxy, we can freely admit that, despite the rapid progress of science and human discoveries, unfortunately the world has as a whole has not yet reached the noble concept and perception of religious freedom and that we still need a collaborative effort to achieve this goal.
Nonetheless, contemporary religious persecutions against Christians once again reveal the power of faith and the grace of sanctity.
Fathers, Brothers, and Children in the Risen Lord,
The anniversary that we celebrate is a crucial sign. It signifies that, when man loses his unity with the Church, whose constitution lies in the Trinitarian unity, he also loses his freedom. For one loses oneself when one loses all others. Everything in the Church is illumined by the Trinitarian unity, particularly the Eucharistic sacrament, which comprises the very heart of the Church as a gift from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. If man preserves the Trinitarian unity, man is preserved as person and communion. If we preserve and experience this unity, the divine – human unity, then we preserve the unconfused and undivided unity of the two natures in Christ, which are extended to us as a blessing in the unity of truth and life, institution and grace, law and freedom. Those things that appear antithetical in fact interpenetrate without change and without alteration in accordance with the model of the Theotokos, who brought the opposites into the same. At the same time, this interpenetration reveals the constant presence at all times and in all places of Christ, divine and human, who continues to journey in the field of history with another form. He journeys with every person who struggles searches and despairs not in order to grant “magical solutions” as some sensory narcotic but in order to open his eyes, grant new senses and lift him toward heaven, while bringing down to earth the Holy Spirit which enters our earthly knead as a Trinitarian leaven.
No human institution, even if labeled ecclesiastical, can contain, tolerate, and satisfy the man, who breathe God within and desires what lies beyond, namely ongoing perfection in Christ. Nor is it possible for such a man to be satisfied with any promise or worldly perspective when he thirsts for the inconceivable and humanly inaccessible. All human existence cries “No!” to every secular institution, which supposedly claims that it leads to the mystery of life and salvation.
Every mechanical and seemingly “good” spiritual institution is “only” ready is frail, dissolved and non-existent. Therefore, the Lord, who knows all things and guides human hearts, came to shatter these “prisons” so he was persecuted and continues to be persecuted. However, in the end He was victorious in His Resurrection. He destroyed deceit. He overthrew the bankers’ tables and the merchants’ benches, namely those who had converted God’s temple into “a house of commerce.” (John 2:17) He liberated humanity from the “curse” of the law. (Gal. 3:13) Through His descent into hades, “chains were broken, gates were shattered, tombs were open, and the dead were brought to life.” (Aposticha, Great Vespers, Holy Friday)
Thus, all those who were “dead” from love, freedom, human rights, faith, hope, expectation, light, righteousness, truth, life, passed over into light: “and none was left dead and buried.” (Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom)
And thus was constituted the holy Church, which through the ages, the martyrs, the ascetics and the righteous, despite persecutions and human temptations, is no “prison,” but freedom and, like death, powerful love. As the herald of this truth through the centuries, the Church is the continuation and consequence of the womb of another Mother, “wider than the heavens,” which gives birth to freedom. Thanks to the Church, all of us are children of the free woman (Gal. 4:31), children of freedom, which is acquired through obedience to the divine truth and love. If human institutions are afraid of human freedom, either dispelling, or disregarding, or even abolishing it, the institution of the Church, generates free persons in the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit constitutes the entire institution of the Church in as much as it “breathes where it wills but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) The indefinable nature of freedom is the rock of our faith.
The Wisdom of God, the Lady Theotokos our Pammakaristos and Conciliation, St. Demetrios Kanavis, St. George the Trophy-bearer of the Phanar, and all the saints of our Church are not keepers of the law but legislators according to St. Symeon the New Theologian. The institution of the Church is charismatic, and the charismata of the saints function as institutional signposts for the faithful of the Church.
One can truly and experientially say that charismatics do not exist but in fact become and are continually born for charisma is not granted as a static quality, but as a blessing, which is granted perpetually. Charismatics are those who are truly free because they are aware of the ultimate weakness of humanity and goodness of God. Such is the teaching that has trickled down to us from the Edict of Saint Constantine.
Those who see everyone else good and pure, regarding themselves as being “beneath all creation,” possess the grace of compunction and humility. They recognize the gifts of inner rest and illumination, they regard nothing as their own achievement, nor do they exploit any opportunity to expand their “authority” by “undermining” others, namely by limiting the freedom of others. The saints marvel at God’s ineffable love and spontaneously return this love directly to the Giver of al gifts. This is precisely what renders the saints worthy of continually receiving gifts that are new, greater, spotless, spiritual, a blessing for all creation, general achievements. In turn, they continue to reserve to have no high regard for themselves. Their highest regard is God.
As soon as they become aware that the world honors them, the saints are surprised, worry, and withdraw. They retire behind the curtain of feigned foolishness or ignorance, which in fact is true freedom. They are comfortable because they live, follow, and contribute to the flow of divine blood and grace within the body of the Church community.
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Human rights and the freedom of religious conscience are gifts which were “once given to the saints” (Jude 1:3), but which are constantly acquired along the journey of life. They are acquired through the experience of communion in Christ within the harmonious cosmic liturgy. We have been talking for 1700 years about the freedom of human conscience. However, the Orthodox Church always – and particularly in the recent years of global changes within the last tragic century – foresees and discerns in its entirety the “prevalence in the world of peace, righteousness, freedom, fraternity and love among all peoples, and the elimination of all racial and other distinctions,” as would be decided by the coming Holy and Great Synod.
These sacred gifts are experienced through grace in the Divine Liturgy, where the creation of the world is revealed. It is humanly impossible to comprehend the magnitude of our freedom because we do not respect human beings as the image of God. And if we do not love our neighbor, we do not truly love God.
In this world, people naively imagine that “all things are fluid and nothing is permanent and it is not possible to cross the same river twice” (Heraclitus), namely that all things come and go and are forgotten, while human stones and graves cover them.
The Lord granted us the mystery of memory in freedom, when he proclaimed that “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered” (Luke 12:2) and that all things culminate in the truth of freedom in Him and in the sense of doxological gratitude “for all that we know and do not know.”
Therefore, beyond external differences and distances, beyond worldly changes and exchanges, beyond the “rational” West and East, from the creation of the world we have seen God’s love, which dispels the falsehood of deceit like an irruption in silence, granting us the truth of life as a blessing of freedom and unity, as a journey of surprises leading to the endless journey toward Pascha, which is Jesus Christ Himself. “It was no messenger or angel but His presence that saved” (Is. 63:9) us in freedom and for freedom. He is with us after His ascension, “neither separated nor distant from us.” (Kontakion of the Feast of the Ascension) He stands beside us even when it appears that He abandoned us. Finally, He grants us the assurance that He is always present manifesting His glory in love and kenosis, depicted in icons as the king of glory in His resurrection, delivering Adam and Eve from hell, even while hanging peacefully on the wood of the Cross in ultimate humiliation.
“Great are you, O Lord, and wondrous are your works, and no word suffices to Hymn your wonders.” In any case, “every hymn is inadequate, hastening to describe the multitude of Christ’s great compassion.”
Our Modesty, together with our brothers in the Holy Spirit and concelebrants in the Lord, stand before the “empty tomb” with the myrrh-bearing women and behold that “the stone has been moved.” We witness in ecstasy and awe the Risen Lord, who trampled down death by death, liberating us from the bonds of flesh and consuming hades, while granting us life.
Thus, on the occasion of our commemoration of the granting to Christians of the right to freedom of faith and worship, from this sacred Center of Orthodoxy, which has served in captivity the true freedom of humanity in Christ and of the ecclesiastical body, we express our intense concern, anxiety and protest for the ongoing persecutions throughout the world. In particular, today we fervently pray for the Christian populations of the geographical regions of the Middle East, who experience frequent murders, kidnappings, persecutions and threats, which have culminated in the kidnapping of two brother Hierarchs, whose whereabouts are still unknown, namely the distinguished and most reverend Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo, well-known for his spirituality and significant ecclesiastical, social and educational ministry, as well as the Syrian Jacobite Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo.
We wholeheartedly share in the pain, sorrow and challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East and Egypt, and especially in the ancient and senior Patriarchate of Antioch. Beyond any political stance, we categorically condemn once again the use of all forms of violence, appealing to the rulers of this world to respect the fundamental human rights of life, honor, dignity and property, recognizing and praising the peaceful lifestyle of Christians as well as their constant effort to remain far from turmoil and trouble.
We express our concern as the Church of Constantinople that, 1700 years after the issue of the Edict of Milan, people continue to be persecuted for their faith, religion and conscientious choices.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate will never cease, through all the spiritual means and truth at its disposal, to support the efforts for peaceful dialogue among the various religions, the peaceful solution to every difference, and a prevailing atmosphere of toleration, reconciliation and cooperation among all people irrespective of religion and grace.
In condemning every form of violence as contrary to religion, we proclaim from the Ecumenical Patriarchate that truly great is “the mystery of our religion; God was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among gentiles, believed in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16), governs the world and the affairs of the world in accordance with His incomprehensible will and judgment, and will come again in glory as the righteous judge of the entire world.
To Him be glory, might, power, honor, worship, and the kingdom to the endless ages of ages. Amen.
In the year of the Lord 2013, May 19.
Your fervent supplicant to God,
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
+ Athanasios of Chalcedon, co-supplicant
+ Apostolos of Derkoi, co-supplicant
+ Evangelos of Perghe, co-supplicant
+ Germanos of Theodoroupolis, co-supplicant
+ Irenaios of Myriophyton and Peristasis, co-supplicant
+ Chrysostomos of Myra, co-supplicant
+ Gennadios of Sassima, co-supplicant
+ Evangelos of New Jersey, co-supplicant
+ Kyrillos of Rhodes, co-supplicant
+ Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronos, co-supplicant
+ Constantine of Singapore, co-supplicant
+ Arsenios of Austria, co-supplicant

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 | Comments (0)

Promulguée par le patriarche œcuménique Bartholomée le 19 mai 2013 :

Nouvelle encyclique pour les 1700 ans de l'édit de Milan
No de protocole 441
« Béni sois-tu, ô Christ notre Dieu qui l’as voulu ainsi », d’avoir tout dispensé à tous, et nous ayant conduit en ce « Jour de la Résurrection » où « de lumière, est rempli tout l’univers au ciel et sur terre. »
Cette année, c’est le 1700ème anniversaire de la promulgation de l’Édit de Milan sur la liberté de foi religieuse. Dans la communion avec l’Église en tout lieu et de tout temps, depuis ce très saint siège œcuménique apostolique et patriarcal, nous adressons un message d’espoir, d’amour, de paix et d’optimisme, puisque l’Église existe en tant que manifestation divine continue. « Celui qui a vu le Fils a vu le Père » , et celui qui a vu l’institution de l’Église a vu le Seigneur Dieu-homme, présent invisiblement parmi nous, et le Saint-Esprit.
L’Église est une telle institution dans la liberté : « Voilà le christianisme : il donne la liberté dans la servitude » 
Par l’édit de Milan, les persécutions décrétées contre l’Église et la religion cessent légalement. Pour la première fois, la liberté de conscience religieuse est instituée dans le monde. Cependant, la liberté dont Christ nous a gratifiée en nous libérant , n’est ni forme ni lettre. C’est une liberté réelle dont nous sommes toujours en quête, pour que tout devienne « nouveau ». D’ailleurs, n’espérons-nous pas un ciel nouveau et une terre nouvelle ?
Jusqu’à l’époque de Constantin le Grand, l’histoire du monde, « l’ancien Israël » d’avant Christ, mais aussi après la présence incarnée divino-humaine du « nouvel Israël », le fait pour quelqu’un d’exprimer librement sa foi consciente faisait l’objet de poursuites et de persécutions allant même jusqu’au martyre de sang pour la vérité.
L’histoire fait aussi état de persécutions menées contre des personnes ayant une conception de la Divinité et une foi différente de celle professée par le souverain ou la société dont elles étaient membres.
L’Ancien Testament cite le roi Nabuchodonosor, considéré alors maître de l’univers ; ayant fait faire une grande statue le représentant, il a commandé à tous ses sujets de l’adorer en se prosternant jusqu’à la terre.
Les « trois jeunes gens » furent jetés dans la fournaise pour avoir refusé de se prosterner devant l’idole de Nabuchodonosor. En fait, ils ont refusé au roi séculier la dignité d’égalité aux dieux qu’il s’était attribuée. C’est pour cette même raison que sainte Salomé et ses fils, les sept frères Macchabées, avec leur maître Eléazar, ont été persécutés et ont fini leur vie dans le martyre. 
L’autorité de Nabuchodonosor a été solennellement réfutée par la fournaise de feu ardent, qui préfigure le Mystère de notre toute-sainte Mère de Dieu ; transformé en vent de rosée rafraichissant, le feu a gardé indemnes les trois jeunes-gens, comme le Feu de la Divinité n’a pas touché la Vierge Mère de Dieu.
Refusant de se prosterner devant l’arrogant insensé qui s’était arrogé l’attribut de Dieu et chantant : « toutes les œuvres du Seigneur, bénissez le Seigneur » , les jeunes gens jetés dans la fournaise préfigurent la liberté apportée par le Seigneur qui, pour gagner « ceux qui sont assujettis à la loi » , s’est fait comme eux. 
À Athènes, le philosophe Socrate a été condamné à mort au motif qu’il n’acceptait pas les dieux que la cité adorait. Les anciens écrivains Grecs rapportent plusieurs cas de poursuites individuelles engagées contre des tenants de croyances différentes : par exemple, contre Anaxagore de Clazomènes accusé de soutenir que le soleil était de la roche en fusion ou contre Diagoras de Mélos accusé de tourner en ridicule les antiques mystères idolâtres et de dissuader les citoyens d’y participer.
Quoi qu’il en soit, les persécutions, réelles et idéologiques, menées au cours des siècles, bien qu’elles aient souvent conduit au martyre subi pour rendre témoignage, n’ont pas jamais été en mesure d’abolir la tolérance religieuse, officiellement proclamée par l’Édit de Milan.
Animés d’un esprit absolutiste, les empereurs romains se sont proclamés aussi chefs religieux. Ils sont même allés jusqu’à exiger que leur soit reconnus l’attribut divin et l’honneur correspondant.
Le refus des chrétiens de se plier à ces exigences de l’empereur provoquait sa colère, surtout à cause de la remise en question de son autorité. Les persécutions impitoyables menées en leur encontre sont le résultat d’une telle conception anthropocentrique provoquant des hécatombes entiers de martyrs qui « ont lavé leurs robes et les ont blanchies dans le sang de l’agneau ». 
En conclusion, l’aboutissement des persécutions qui ont sévi contre la religion est parfaitement illustré par l’adage de saint Jean Chrysostome : « On ne s’attaque pas à Dieu impunément. Si le châtiment se fait parfois attendre, c’est un délai que la Bonté souveraine accorde à l’homme téméraire […] S’il persiste dans son égarement […] il leur [aux autres hommes] apprendra par l’exemple de son inévitable punition à ne pas s’aventurer dans une lutte contre Dieu, aux mains invincibles de qui nul ne saurait échapper » .
Après trois siècles de persécutions féroces menées à l’encontre des chrétiens, les empereurs Constantin le Grand d’Orient et Licinius d’Occident ont reconnu que l’empire n’avait tiré aucun profit de l’intolérance religieuse et des persécutions incessantes. Ils ont donc décidé de permettre aux chrétiens de pratiquer librement la foi et rendre culte à Dieu. La volonté de Constantin le Grand, qui a « calculé l’habileté de cette guerre diabolique » , est illustrée dans l’édit de Milan de 313, toujours d’actualité, qui a servi de base à la reconnaissance universelle, plusieurs siècles après, de la liberté de la conscience religieuse.
L’édit de Milan comprend des positions sur la liberté religieuse, très en avance pour l’époque, exprimées en treize unités. Il institue des principes qui, tout en étant singuliers au IVe siècle, demeurent toujours des postulats et des points de repère, malgré l’allégation qu’ils seraient aussi pleinement appliqués dans ce monde « du mal » fait d’« injustice » et d’« obscurantisme », au-lieu de Justice et de Lumière.
Il confesse et proclame : le respect de la pensée et de la volonté de chacun de prendre soin des affaires divines à son gré ; la foi et le respect dû au divin, et l’octroi aux chrétiens et au monde entier de la liberté de choisir leur religion, sans en être inquiétés ; la restitution immédiate aux chrétiens, à l’Église et au Synode, de leurs lieux de culte et autres, confisqués et enlevés ; tout ceci, afin que « la providence divine qui nous entoure et dont nous avons fait l’expérience à plusieurs reprises, demeure chez nous pour toujours ».
Cet édit et les réformes de Constantin le Grand qui l’ont suivi ont introduit dans le monde la notion des droits de l’homme. Pour la première fois, les principes susmentionnés sont consacrés : le respect de la tolérance, la liberté d’exprimer la conscience religieuse – valeurs de la vie humaine – et tout ceci a constitué le fondement de la législation contemporaine en vigueur et des dispositions prévues dans les diverses déclarations d’organisations internationales et d’entités étatiques.
Ayant reçu l’appel non des hommes, mais de Dieu, Constantin le Grand a embrassé le monde entier, peuple et Église, croyants et irréligieux. Il s’est mis au service de la prospérité paisible et du salut de l’humanité. Depuis son époque, l’Église du Christ transforme les institutions et la vie, et elle régénère le monde, à l’instar du buisson ardent du Sinaï qui brûlait sans se consumer, la matrice qui « offrit une place au Dieu infini », la Vie, « pour que nous les hommes ayons la vie » .
En examinant l’histoire du monde depuis la promulgation de cet édit de Constantin le Grand, surtout aujourd’hui, 1700 ans après, nous sommes consternés de constater que les dispositions prises par lui en faveur de la liberté religieuse, ont souvent été violées dans le passé, non seulement aux dépens des chrétiens, mais parfois par les chrétiens eux-mêmes les uns à l’encontre des autres et à l’encontre des adeptes d’autres religions.
Malheureusement, lorsque les chrétiens sont devenus majoritaires dans la société, il y a eu des cas d’excès de zèle entre eux. Une des attitudes les plus répréhensibles d’intolérance entre chrétiens furent le schisme et la division de l’Église Une, les générations postérieures ayant oublié que « le Christ n’est pas divisé »  et que nous les humains sommes « terre et cendre » . Nous avons ignoré et nous continuons de mépriser l’angoisse d’avoir déchiré la tunique sans couture du Seigneur, d’avoir divisé l’Église considérée de part et d’autre comme l’Église une, catholique et apostolique. « Ayant consommé le mal »  nous manquons d’amour, de paix, de tolérance. Nous évitons de poser les uns aux autres la question cruciale : « Le juge de toute la terre »  ne nous jugera-t-il pas nous aussi ? 
Au siècle passé, l’Église spécialement l’Église orthodoxe a été impitoyablement persécutée par le régime athée et les autres régimes dans l’obédience idéologique de celui-ci surtout dans les pays d’Europe de l’Est. De nos jours encore, les chrétiens sont traités avec hostilité dans certains pays, bien que le droit de liberté religieuse soit désormais internationalement reconnu par de nombreuses conventions internationales.
Les rapports sur l’oppression religieuse émanant des organisations internationales compétentes en la matière pullulent de cas précis d’oppression religieuse dont des chrétiens sont victimes, en tant que groupes minoritaires ou à titre individuel.
Aujourd’hui encore, il s’avère malheureusement nécessaire de souligner que la tolérance religieuse et la liberté du culte sont un acquis culturel. De vastes régions du globe sont habitées par des gens qui ne tolèrent pas une foi différente de la leur. Des persécutions religieuses sévissent encore, bien que sous une forme différente de celle des premières persécutions chrétiennes. Il y a encore des discriminations, parfois très répressives, au détriment des adeptes de certaines croyances religieuses. Dans de nombreux cas, le fanatisme et le fondamentalisme religieux règnent. L’édit de Milan est donc toujours d’actualité et s’adresse à ceux qui, 1700 ans après sa promulgation, ne l’ont pas appliqué dans son intégralité.
Suivant attentivement, depuis ce centre sacré de l’Orthodoxie le cheminement de l’humanité, nous confessons en toute liberté que malheureusement, malgré les progrès fulgurants de la science et des découvertes, le monde dans son ensemble n’est pas encore parvenu à une conception et acceptation majeure de la liberté religieuse et qu’un effort coordonné s’avère nécessaire pour atteindre cet objectif.
Les persécutions religieuses contemporaines à l’encontre des chrétiens révèlent à nouveau la puissance de la foi et la Grâce de la sainteté. 
Pères, Frères et Enfants dans le Seigneur ressuscité, 
L’anniversaire que nous sommes en train de célébrer constitue un signal crucial : En rompant son unité avec l’Église, qui se compose de l’unité («καθώς») trinitaire, il perd sa liberté. Car il perd son « moi » qui est tous les autres. Le tout dans l’Église manifeste le « καθώς » trinitaire, spécialement l’office eucharistique qui constitue le cœur de l’Église. C’est un charisme, un don du Père par le Fils avec la coopération du Saint-Esprit. Si le « καθώς » trinitaire est sauvegardé, l’homme est sauvé en tant que personne et en tant que société. Et si nous préservons et vivons le « καθώς », le divino-humain, alors l’union sans confusion ni division des deux natures en Christ est maintenue et s’étend comme une bénédiction dans l’unité entre vérité et vie, entre institution et Grâce, entre loi et liberté. Des choses opposées en apparence s’interpénètrent sans changement ni altération, selon le modèle de la Mère de Dieu qui a concilié les contraires. Dans cette interpénétration est perçue la présence continue du Dieu-homme partout dans le monde jusqu’à la fin des temps Qui continue d’arpenter sous une forme différente le champ de l’histoire. Il fait route ensemble avec l’homme en proie à l’angoisse, au questionnement et au désespoir, non pas pour lui fournir des « solutions magiques », comme des stupéfiants pour les sens, mais pour lui ouvrir les yeux, lui donner ses facultés perceptives, l’élever au ciel et faire descendre sur terre l’Esprit Saint qui, en tant que levain trinitaire, pénètre notre pâte terreuse.
Aucune institution humaine, ne fût-ce dite ecclésiastique, ne saurait circonscrire ni satisfaire l’homme qui porte en lui le souffle de Dieu, aspire à « aller plus loin », à son essor, aspire au Christ. Il est impossible à l’homme de se reposer sur une promesse ou une perspective temporelle, quelle qu’elle soit, car il a soif de l’inconcevable et de l’humainement impossible. L’existence humaine entière dit « non » à l’institution organisée sur le mode séculier, censée l’initier au mystère de la vie et du salut.
Pour l’homme, la « bonne » institution spirituelle opérant mécaniquement est « uniquement » celle qui est délabrée, dissoute et inexistante. C’est pourquoi, le Seigneur omniscient, qui scrute les cœurs et les reins, est venu et a détruit les « prisons ». Il fut persécuté, il l’est toujours. À la fin, il emporta la victoire par Sa Résurrection. Et il abolit la fraude. Il renversa les tables des changeurs et les sièges des marchands qui avaient transformé le Temple de Dieu en « maison de trafic » . Il libéra l’humanité de la « malédiction de la loi » . En descendant aux Enfers, « les verrous furent brisés, les portes arrachées ; alors s’ouvrirent les tombeaux et se levèrent les morts » . Grâce à l’amour, la liberté, les droits de l’homme, la foi, l’espérance, la lumière, la justice, la vérité, la Vie, tous les « morts, nous sommes sortis à la Lumière : « et il n’est plus de mort au tombeau » .
La sainte Église fut constituée qui, au cours des siècles, par les martyrs, les bienheureux, les justes, en dépit des persécutions et des tentations humaines, n’est pas une « prison », mais liberté et amour, aussi puissant que la mort. L’Église, héraut de sa vérité à travers les siècles, est la continuité et la conséquence de la matrice d’une autre Mère, « plus vaste que les cieux » qui donne naissance à l’homme libre. Grâce à elle, nous sommes tous enfants de la femme libre , enfants de la liberté conquise par l’obéissance à la Vérité de Dieu, à l’Amour.
Si les institutions humaines craignent la liberté humaine, la troquent, l’ignorent ou l’abolissent, l’Institution de l’Église fait naître des hommes libres dans l’Esprit. L’Esprit forge toute l’Institution de l’Église, Lui qui, comme le vent « souffle où il veut […] mais tu ne sais ni d’où il vient ni où il va. Ainsi en est-il de quiconque est né de l’Esprit » . Et l’indéfinissable de la liberté est la pierre de la foi.
La Sagesse de Dieu, notre Dame la Mère de Dieu, la toute-Bienheureuse et la Consolation, saint Démètre Kanavos, saint Georges le Victorieux du Diplophanar, tous les Saints de notre Église, ne sont pas des gardiens de la loi, mais des législateurs, selon saint Siméon le Jeune Théologien. L’Institution de l’Église est charismatique et les charismes des Saints opèrent comme institutions conductrices pour le plérôme de l’Église.
L’on peut vraiment et empiriquement affirmer qu’il n’y a pas de personnes charismatiques d’emblée, mais qu’elles le deviennent, émergent continuellement. Le charisme ne leur fut pas donné comme attribut statique, mais comme bénédiction dispensée en permanence. Ce sont ces personnes qui sont vraiment libres, conscientes de l’extrême faiblesse de l’homme et de la bonté de Dieu, dont les prescriptions de l’édit de saint Constantin sont le distillat.
Ceux qui considèrent les autres bons et purs et qui se considèrent « inférieurs à la création », possèdent la grâce de la contrition de l’humble de cœur et du méprisé. Ils acceptent les charismes du repos intérieur et de l’illumination. Ils ne considèrent rien comme un accomplissement ni comme une possibilité d’exploiter pour accroître leur « prestige » en « dévalorisant » les autres, c’est-à-dire en limitant la liberté de la personne. Les saints s’étonnent de l’amour ineffable de Dieu et le rendent spontanément et immédiatement à Celui qui leur en a fait don. C’est ce qui rend les saints dignes de recevoir continuellement de nouveaux charismes, plus grands, immaculés, spirituels, bénissant l’univers, de vrais accomplissements. Et ils continuent à n’avoir aucune haute opinion d’eux-mêmes. Ils ont une haute Opinion de Dieu.
Dès que la vénération du monde à leur égard devient connue, ils s’en étonnent, en sont indignés et agacés. Ils se refugient derrière le paravent soit d’une folie factice soit d’une ignorance supposée, c’est-à-dire d’une vraie liberté. Et ils vivent dans la quiétude, contribuant à la circulation du Sang et de la Grâce dans le corps de la communauté ecclésiale.
Frères dans le Seigneur,
Les droits de l’homme, la liberté de la conscience religieuse sont des charismes « donnés aux saints une fois pour toutes » , mais ils sont continuellement conquis dans le parcours humain. Ils le sont en vivant la communion en Christ dans la parfaite harmonie de l’univers. Depuis 1700 ans, nous parlons de la liberté de conscience de l’homme. De tout temps, mais surtout en ces derniers temps de changements cosmogoniques opérés au cours du tragique siècle dernier, notre Église orthodoxe prévoit, entrevoit et examine dans son ensemble « l’instauration dans le monde de la paix, de la justice, de la liberté, de la fraternité et de l’amour entre les peuples, et la suppression des discriminations raciales et autres », et se prononcera là-dessus au moment de réunir son saint et grand Concile.
Ces dons divins sont vécus par la grâce dans la divine liturgie, lors de laquelle la cosmogonie est révélée. Selon la mesure humaine, on a de la peine à comprendre l’ampleur de cette liberté de l’homme et de ses idées, car on ne respecte pas l’homme image de Dieu. Et si l’on n’aime pas le prochain en s’unifiant à lui, on n’aime pas vraiment Dieu.
Dans la vie sur terre, on croit naïvement au perpétuel écoulement des choses : « tout s’écoule, rien n’est stable et on ne peut pas se baigner deux fois dans le même fleuve » , c’est-à-dire que tout est passager, oublié, les affaires humaines sont couvertes de pierres et de la tombe.
Le Seigneur a fait don du mystère de la mémoire dans la liberté en proclamant : « Rien n’est voilé qui ne sera dévoilé » . Tout aboutit à la vérité de la liberté en Lui et au sentiment de gratitude et de louange à Dieu « pour tous les bienfaits connus et ignorés de nous ».
Au-delà des différences et des distances extérieures, donc au-delà des alternances et des avis temporels, au-delà du « raisonnement » Occident et Orient, dès l’origine du monde, Dieu manifeste son amour qui, comme une explosion dans le silence, dissipe le mensonge de la fraude, nous dispense la vérité de la vie, comme une bénédiction de liberté et d’unité, comme un chemin émaillé de surprises conduisant à la Marche sans fin et à la Pâque qui est le Dieu-homme lui-même. « Ce n’est pas un délégué ni un messager, c’est lui, en personne, qui nous sauva »  dans la liberté et pour nous faire accéder à la liberté. Il est avec nous dans l’Ascension « sans nous délaisser, mais restant toujours parmi nous » . Il défend et protège l’homme, même lorsqu’il semble l’abandonner. Et il dispense, enfin, la certitude d’être toujours présent, manifestant Sa gloire dans l’amour et le dépouillement, représenté dans l’iconographie comme Roi de gloire dans la Résurrection, délivrant de l’enfer Adam et Ève, l’humanité, mais aussi suspendu paisiblement sur le bois de la Croix, dans l’extrême humiliation.
« Tu es grand, Seigneur, tes œuvres sont admirables, et nulle parole ne suffira pour chanter tes merveilles »  ; d’ailleurs « toute hymne est impuissante lors qu’elle s’efforce d’égaler la multitude des miséricordes »  du Christ.
Notre humble personne, avec nos frères en l’Esprit saint et concélébrant dans le Seigneur, avec les femmes Myrophores, nous nous tenons devant le « sépulcre vide », nous voyons que « la pierre est roulée » et nous regardons tremblants et bouleversés le Seigneur Ressuscité, par sa mort ayant triomphé de la mort, et nous délivrant des entraves de la chair et de l’enfer engloutissant tout pour nous donner la vie. 
Prenant donc prétexte du souvenir de l’octroi aux chrétiens du droit à la liberté de foi et de culte, depuis ce centre sacré de l’Orthodoxie qui, tout en étant asservi selon la mesure humaine, a servi la vraie liberté en Christ de l’homme et du corps ecclésial, nous exprimons notre préoccupation, angoisse et protestation face aux persécutions qui sévissent encore partout sur terre, surtout récemment à l’encontre des populations chrétiennes du Moyen Orient. Celles-ci se manifestent par des assassinats, des enlèvements, des poursuites et des menaces contre eux, dont le comble est l’enlèvement de nos deux frères Hiérarques encore portés disparus : Son Éminence le métropolite Paul d’Alep et Alexandrette, connu pour sa spiritualité, ainsi que pour son importante œuvre ecclésiastique, sociale et éducative, et le métropolite de l’Église syriaque, Mar Johanna-Ibrahim d’Alep.
Nous partageons la douleur, l’affliction et les difficultés auxquelles les chrétiens sont confrontés au Moyen Orient et en Égypte, surtout l’ancien et vénérable Patriarcat d’Antioche. Sans prendre aucune position politique, nous condamnons sans hésitation une fois de plus toute forme de violence à leur encontre, faisant appel aux puissants de la terre de faire respecter les droits de l’homme les plus élémentaires à la vie, l’honneur, la dignité, la fortune, connaissant et louant leur comportement paisible et pacifique, leur effort constant de rester loin de toute agitation et de tout conflit.
Nous exprimons notre angoisse, comme Église de Constantinople, car, mille sept-cents ans après la promulgation de l’Édit de Milan, les humains sont persécutés pour leur foi, leur religion et leurs choix faits en toute conscience.
Le Patriarcat œcuménique, par tous les moyens spirituels à sa disposition et par la vérité, ne cessera jamais de soutenir les efforts de dialogue pacifique entre les diverses religions, la solution pacifique de tout différend et l’instauration d’un climat de tolérance, de réconciliation et de coopération entre les hommes de toute religion et de toute origine ethnique.
En condamnant, comme contraire à la religion, toute forme de violence, depuis le Patriarcat œcuménique, nous proclamons : « Assurément il est grand le mystère de la piété. Il a été manifesté dans la chair, justifié par l’Esprit, contemplé par les anges, proclamé chez les païens, cru dans le monde, exalté dans la gloire » . Il gouverne le monde et les affaires du monde, selon Sa volonté et Son jugement impénétrables et vient à nouveau dans la gloire comme Juge impartial pour juger le monde entier. 
À Lui la gloire, la puissance, la force, l’honneur, l’adoration et le règne dans les siècles des siècles infinis. Amen.
En l’an de grâce 2013, le 19 du mois de mai.
† Bartholomaios de Constantinople, implorant Dieu
† Athanase de Chalcédoine, y joignant ses prières
† Constantin de Derka, y joignant ses prières
† Évangélos de Pergè, y joignant ses prières
† Germain de Théodoroupolis, y joignant ses prières
† Irénée de Myriofyton et Péristasis, y joignant ses prières
† Chrysostome de Myra, y joignant ses prières
† Gennade de Sasimes, y joignant ses prières
† Évangélos de New-Jersey, y joignant ses prières
† Cyrille de Rhodes, y joignant ses prières
† Damascène de Kydonia et Apokorono, y joignant ses prières
† Constantin de Singapour, y joignant ses prières
† Arsène d’Autriche, y joignant ses prières

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 | Comments (0)

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