Italy reacted with disgust last week to the lavish funeral procession held for alleged Mafia boss Vittorio Casamonica, including a gilded horse-drawn carriage procession, rose petals dropped from a helicopter, and the “Godfather” movie soundtrack.
Now the Roman Catholic Church is grappling with its role in the extravagant funeral as it wrestles with how it might continue to offer the sacraments to members of crime syndicates without appearing to condone their lifestyles.
During Thursday’s funeral, the walls of Rome’s San Giovanni Bosco Catholic Church were adorned with posters, reading “King of Rome” and “You have conquered Rome, now you will conquer heaven.”
In the days after the funeral, the church tried to distance itself from the elaborately orchestrated spectacle, with Auxiliary Bishop Giuseppe Mariante stating church officials did not know the ceremony would be accompanied by “Mafia propaganda.”
“Of course, if we had had the suspicion of a show of this type, we would have taken precautions,” Mariante was quoted as saying in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper. “We absolutely would not have accepted conducting that funeral.”
The Church does not deny last rites, including Communion, to Mafia members or other criminals if requested by relatives, said Bishop Vincenzo Bertolone of Catanzaro-Squillace in Italy’s southern Calabria region, the heartland of the powerful ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate….
MHFM Comment: The true Catholic Church does deny sacraments to such public sinners.