The Italian Government Wishes to Forbid Commerce on Sunday

September 14, 2018
the commercial center of Milan

In Italy, the Vice-Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wishes to forbid sales on Sundays and holidays, after they were made much easier in 2012.

The reform of the labor code that came into effect in 2015 was accomplished by the president of the Italian Council at the time, Matteo Renzi. It generated a buzz in the country and sparked a lot of debate. And it had heavy consequences for the Sunday rest of many Italians. Indeed, according to the European statistics office Eurostat, 3.5 million Italian employees work on Sundays in all the different sectors. Shopping centers are now open 7 days a week. Those who defend these openings point out that this number is low compared to the 47% of Swedish workers and the average 30% in the European Union, since “only” 24% of Italian employees are concerned.

France allows grocery stores to open until 1:00 p.m. Other stores are allowed to open if the mayor of the town approves and on the condition that they pay employees double.

According to, the new Italian law should be adopted before the end of 2018.

In December 2017, during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled:

...some secularized societies have lost the Christian sense of Sunday illuminated by the Eucharist. This is a shame! In these contexts, it is necessary to revive this awareness, to recover the meaning of the celebration, the meaning of the joy, of the parish community, of solidarity, of the rest which restores body and soul,

He finished by adding that working on Sundays makes us live as “slaves.”

The origin of the Sunday rest is in the Decalogue:

Six days shalt thou labor, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates (Ex. 20:8-10).

Ever since Christ’s Resurrection, this day is Sunday, the “Lord’s Day” – dies Domini. For this reason, the Sunday rest is a precept of positive divine law; the Church only made this divine commandment clearer and more precise. She then included it in her code of law – Canon Law – and her universal catechism. The temporal power – as soon as it began to have normal relations with the Church, beginning with the Edict of Milan – quickly followed suit. In his decree on March 7, 321, the Emperor Constantine declared: “On the venerable day of Sunday, the magistrates and inhabitants shall rest, and all the workshops shall be closed.”