Catholic Church Condemns Swastika-Draped Casket in Rome

A picture made available by the Italian online news portal Open, showing people gathered around a swastika-covered casket outside the St. Lucia church, in Rome, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. The Catholic Church in Rome on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, strongly condemned as "offensive and unacceptable" a funeral procession outside a …
Open Via AP

ROME — The Catholic Diocese of Rome has forcefully condemned an incident outside a local parish church following a funeral Monday in which people draped the casket in a Nazi flag.

Outside the parish church of Santa Lucia, “a group of people covered the coffin with a flag bearing the Nazi swastika — a horrible symbol irreconcilable with Christianity — and chanted and performed gestures attributable to this extremist ideology,” reads a statement published online by the Rome vicariate.

“The ideological and violent exploitation, even more so following an act of worship and in the vicinity of a sacred place, was serious, offensive, and unacceptable for the church community of Rome and for all people of good will in our city,” the statement says.

Noting that the Vicariate of Rome “firmly deplores” the incident, the statement adds that the parish priest of the Santa Lucia church, Father Alessandro Zenobbi, was completely unaware of what was happening and was only informed after the fact.

Father Zenobbi issued his own statement, saying he wished to distance himself “from every word, gesture, and symbol used outside the church, attributable to extremist ideologies far from the message of the Gospel of Christ.”

The deceased at Monday’s funeral was reportedly a woman named Alessia Augello, a member of the extreme right-wing movement Forza Nuova.

Alessia’s aunt Stefania Vesica posted a message on Facebook stating that the family of the deceased “dissociate themselves from what happened outside the church of Santa Lucia after the funeral.”

“Not even Alessia herself would have agreed with or appreciated this in any way,” the message states. “We would never have allowed or authorized what happened afterwards.”

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