Category: Italy

Churches are empty in the heart of Rome, while worshippers in suburbs pray in garages

It’s a situation that has been confounding the Diocese of Rome, the very heart of the Roman Catholic world: The magnificent churches of the city center serve more as museums than houses of prayer, while many among the burgeoning throngs of the faithful in the scrappy outskirts of town are forced to worship in garages, former grocery stores, or prefab buildings.

Bible studies may reveal Godfather’s secrets

Italian police codebreakers are turning to the Bible in their efforts to get at the many secrets of the mafia’s “boss of bosses”. Bernardo Provenzano was arrested this month after 43 years on the run. When an undercover policewoman known as “the Cat” walked into his rural hideout on April 11 she found him surrounded by encoded messages to and from his lieutenants. Piero Grasso, Italy’s chief anti-mafia prosecutor, said they offer investigators a mine of information on the inner workings of the world’s most notorious crime syndicate. But the meaning of some remains obscure, and there is a suspicion

Judge to rule on merit of Christ case

VITERBO, Italy (AP) — An Italian judge heard arguments Friday on whether a small-town parish priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed. The priest’s atheist accuser, Luigi Cascioli, says the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed, and that the Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws by reasserting the claim. Lawyers for Righi and Cascioli, old schoolmates, made their arguments in a brief, closed-door hearing before Judge Gaetano Mautone in Viterbo, north of Rome. The judge was expected to announce his decision — either dismiss the case

Prove Christ exists, judge orders priest

An Italian judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed. The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in the town of Viterbo, north of Rome, by Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist who once studied for the priesthood but later became a militant atheist. Signor Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, began legal proceedings against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ’s historical existence. Yesterday Gaetano Mautone, a judge in Viterbo, set a preliminary hearing

How Buddha went to the mountain

A row over the display of religious symbols in public places in Italy was re-ignited yesterday after a statue of Buddha was erected on one of the highest peaks in the Alps. Four mountaineers hauled the three-stone Buddha up the 10,800ft Pizzo Badile peak on the Italian-Swiss border to protest about melting ice-caps and a plethora of crosses dedicated to fallen climbers that have been revealed. “As the ice thaws there are all these crosses appearing that are really an eyesore,” said Jacabo Merizzi, 46. But some priests and politicians viewed it as an attack on the centuries-old tradition of

Italy bans Islamic burqas

Italy has banned Islamic burqas under tough terrorism laws that provide two-year jail terms and E2000 ($3200) fines for anyone caught covering their face in a public place. The counter-terrorism package, passed by Italy’s parliament yesterday, doubles the existing penalty for wearing a burqa or chador — traditional robes worn by Muslim women to cover their faces — or full-faced helmets or balaclavas in public. Police can extract DNA samples without a suspect’s consent, detain them for 24 hours without a lawyer present, and deport foreigners suspected of terrorism under the new legislation. Soldiers involved in counter-terrorism have been given