The article aims to analyze which aspects of the Italian welfare system are influenced (shaped) by the dominant religious culture, i.e. Catholicism. It also investigates whether the mechanism through which this influence has been able to shape the social legislation is represented by religion-inspired political parties or by the capacity of the religious culture to directly influence the value system of the majority of the Italian population. In the latter case even lay political parties and governments did contribute to implement in their social policy choices orientations referable to the dominant religious culture. Our argument unfolds through the following steps: 1) a short reconstruction of the Italian welfare state model; 2) an outline of the main principles of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church on welfare issues and social policy topics; 3) an account of the prevailing values on social issues according the Italian population; 4) an evaluation of how much both the principles and the values are incorporated in the present Italian welfare state system; 5) some final remarks on the mechanism through which the Italian Catholic Church has contributed to determine the social protection system.
Keywords: Religion, Values, Welfare State, Subsidiarity. Catholic Church.