Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders condemned an “offensive and unacceptable” funeral procession in which the coffin was draped in a Nazi flag and mourners made the fascist salute outside a church.
Photos and video of the Monday funeral posted online showed about two dozen people gathered outside the church as the swastika-draped casket emerged, shouting “present!” With their right arms outstretched.
In a statement on Tuesday, the vicariate of Rome strongly condemned the scene and stressed that neither the parish priest nor the parish priest who celebrated the funeral had known what would happen outside after the end of the funeral.
He called the Nazi flag adorned with a swastika “a horrible and irreconcilable symbol with Christianity”.
“This ideological and violent exploitation, in particular following an act of worship near a sacred place, remains serious, offensive and unacceptable for the ecclesial community of Rome and for all people of good will in our city”, did he declare.
The statement quotes the parish priest, Rev. Alessandro Zenobbi, distancing himself and the church from “every word, gesture and symbol used outside the church, which is attributed to extremist ideologies far from the gospel message. of Christ ”.
Italian press reports identified the deceased as a 44-year-old former activist of the far-right group Forza Nuova, who died of a blood clot over the weekend.
Pope Francis is technically the Bishop of Rome but delegates the day-to-day management of the diocese to his vicar, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis.
The Jewish community in Rome has expressed outrage that such events could still occur more than 70 decades after the end of World War II and the fall of the Italian fascist dictatorship.
“It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public today, especially in a city which saw its Jews deported by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators,” the statement said.
After a raid on the Jewish quarter of Rome on October 16, 1943, more than 1,000 Jews from the Italian capital were deported, most to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Only 16 returned.
Tuesday’s Jewish community statement said the funeral incident was “even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.”
A similar incident took place outside another church in Rome in March of last year.