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In the first half of the nineteenth century, Italy, as the emerging nationstate closest to the Church’s own seat of power, produced a sense of vulnerability within the Vatican by threatening the power and values it represented. For its part, the presence of the Vatican on Italian soil was, according to many scholars, a key factor in the weak, indeed fragmented, sense of national identity among Italians. This presence thus raises a number of issues, the most prominent of which include the relationship of Catholic officialdom to secular Italian ideology—particularly as the latter became more distinct from Catholic policy—and the more general problem of the situation of minority religions in the context of Catholic culture on the peninsula. These topics have not been thoroughly studied, either individually or as an interrelated set; more specifically, scholarship concerning this period fails to consider an analysis of the situation and the peculiar difficulties facing minority populations as a means for better understanding the community at large—and its “majority problems.”
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