Participation and Beliefs in Popular Religiosity

An Empirical-Theological Exploration among Italian Catholics

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Many academic disciplines have contributed to the study of popular religiosity, but the definition of this phenomenon and of its relation with official religion still remains a problematic topic. This book offers an empirical-theological investigation of popular religiosity by exploring among Italian Catholics the relation between popular religious participation (processions, pilgrimages, vows, et cetera) and religious beliefs. The investigated beliefs are beliefs about God, about human suffering in relation to God, about Jesus Christ, and about the church. The results indicate that popular religious participation influences some of these beliefs. This study contributes to an empirically based picture of a complementary relation between popular religiosity and official religion within the Catholic Church in Italy.
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Biographical Note

Francesco Zaccaria, Ph.D. (2009) in Theology, Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Catholic University Leuven (Belgium), is parish vicar in Fasano (Italy) and collaborates with the Chair of Pastoral Theology of the Theological Faculty of Molfetta (Italy).

Table of contents


Acknowledgements ... vii
Abbreviations ... ix

Chapter One Introduction ... 1
1.1 Why Investigate Popular Religiosity? ... 1
1.2 Popular Religiosity: A Problematic Topic ... 4
1.3 Popular Religiosity: Participation and Beliefs in the Catholic Church ... 5
1.4 Research Goal and Problem ... 9
1.5 Conceptual Model ... 10
1.6 Research Questions ... 16
1.7 Methods ... 19
1.8 Overview of the Study ... 28

Chapter Two Participation in Popular Religiosity in the Catholic Church ... 29
2.1 Dualistic Approaches to Popular Religiosity ... 29
2.2 A Complementary Approach to Popular Religiosity ... 35
2.3 Theological Legitimisation of a Complementary Approach ... 46
2.4 Participation in Popular Religiosity ... 51

Chapter Three Beliefs about God ... 73
3.1 Traditional Beliefs about God in the Teachings of the Catholic Church ... 74
3.2 Beliefs about God in Popular Religiosity ... 77
3.3 Conceptualisation of Beliefs about God ... 79
3.4 Beliefs about God in High and Low Level Popular Religious Participation ... 92

Chapter Four Beliefs about Suffering ... 99
4.1 Approaches to Theodicy in the Teachings of the Catholic Church ... 101
4.2 Approaches to Theodicy in Popular Religiosity ... 110
4.3 Conceptualisation of Beliefs about Suffering ... 115
4.4 Beliefs about Suffering in High and Low Level Popular Religious Participation ... 135

Chapter Five Beliefs about Jesus Christ ... 143
5.1 Dialectics between the Humanity and Divinity of Jesus Christ ... 144
5.2 Conceptualisation of Beliefs about Jesus Christ ... 162
5.3 Beliefs about Jesus Christ in High and Low Level Popular Religious Participation ... 181

Chapter Six Beliefs about the Church ... 189
6.1 Beliefs about Participation in the Church: Dimension ad intra ... 190
6.2 Beliefs about the Relation between Church and Society: Dimension ad extra ... 207

Chapter Seven Effects of Popular Religious Participation on Beliefs ... 225
7.1 Assumed Effect of Popular Religious Participation on Beliefs ... 225
7.2 Popular Religious Participation Affects Beliefs: Theoretical Model ... 228
7.3 Popular Religious Participation Affects Beliefs: Empirical Outcomes ... 238

Chapter Eight Synopsis and Recommendations ... 249
8.1. Synopsis ... 249
8.2. Recommendations ... 263

Appendix One: Measuring Instruments ... 273
Appendix Two: Factor Analyses ... 277
Appendix Three: Scheffé Tests ... 284
Appendix Four: Beliefs and Gender ... 294

Bibliography ... 297
Index ... 309

Readership

All those interested in popular religion, empirical theology, Catholicism, as well as theologians, sociologists and psychologists of religion, pastors and all those working in the pastoral field.