An Italian parish priest has said he will close his church on Christmas in protest against a decree by interior minister Matteo Salvini reining in illegal immigration, accusing his supporters of “killing God.”
Father Paolo Farinella, the pastor of the parish of San Torpete in the northern Italian city of Genoa, will close his church from Christmas through the feast of the Epiphany in protest against the so-called “Salvini law” promulgated in Italy that toughens the country’s immigration policies and facilitates deportations.
“If Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were to present themselves today to celebrate his birth, they would be stopped at the border and thrown back, thanks to Salvini’s dirty decree,” Father Farinella said.
The priest has appealed to “conscientious objection” to justify the drastic measure of closing his church to the faithful.
The law, “modestly called a security decree, is actually a decree of massive insecurity and undercuts the deepest values and feelings of democracy and law,” he said.
“By what right can Christians pretend to celebrate the birth of Jesus when their country, without any resistance or protest, expels the son of God in the form of a man?” he asked rhetorically.
The unusual decision to suspend church services is “a one-man strike” and “the only gesture of dignity that remains,” the priest said.
With this move, Farinella seeks to “stimulate the thinking and reflection of believers and all who have a conscience,” he said.
Since his election last March, Mr. Salvini has provoked the ire of the Italian Catholic establishment, especially because of his firm stance against unregulated mass immigration.
In his short span as interior minister, Salvini has been called everything from Satan to the antichrist because of his commitment to reining in illegal immigration.
Asked how he explains the “unprecedented hostility” toward him from the Catholic establishment in Italy, notably the bishops conference and Catholic journals such as Famiglia Cristiana and Avvenire, Mr. Salvini said the resistance has left him dumbfounded.
“Honestly I cannot explain it. So much virulence leaves me truly perplexed,” Salvini said, adding that on the other hand he is “flooded” with mail from Catholics — even priests and bishops — who encourage him to keep going exactly as he has been.
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