Italians — not as Catholic as they used to be

 Italy may be the spiritual home of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, but a new poll shows only 50 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic

The poll, published in the liberal daily L’Unita, challenges long-held perceptions that Italy is a ”Catholic” country, despite the popularity of Pope Francis and the historic role of the Vatican City State in the heart of Rome.

In addition to the 50 percent who consider themselves Catholic, the poll found 13 percent defined themselves as “Christian.”

Of the 1,500 respondents, 4 percent said they were Orthodox or Protestant, 2 percent were Buddhist, 1 percent were Jewish and 1 percent were Muslim.

A surprising 20 percent said they were atheist, while 8 percent said they were religiously unaffiliated.

Italy has witnessed a weakening of religious faith over the past 20 years and a growing trend toward personal spiritual inquiry.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they did not feel part of a religious community. Of those, some said they believed in destiny, horoscopes, reincarnation, Tarot readings and miracle cures.