Italian Catholic, Jewish leaders condemn use of Nazi flag at church funeral

The Catholic Archdiocese of Rome said in a statement that the priests of the parish of Saint Lucia in a central district of Rome, including the one who presided over the funeral rite, had no idea what would happen next. outside the church on Monday.

Images on the internet showed the coffin bearing the body of Alessia Augello, a former member of the far-right group Forza Nuova, covered by the flag.

The diocese’s statement called the flag a “horrible symbol that cannot be reconciled with Christianity” and said the episode was an offensive example of the “ideological exploitation” of a religious service.

Police said they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The Jewish community in Rome has expressed outrage that such events may still occur more than seven 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 the deportation of its Jews 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 capital were deported, most to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Only 16 returned.

The Jewish community statement on Tuesday 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.

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