'Cohabitation is worse sin than murder': priest

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The letter was distributed among parishioners in the town of Cameri, Novara. Photo: Alessandro Vecchi.
16:05 CEST+02:00
Parish newsletters don’t usually make for controversial reading, but a bulletin penned by a parish priest in northern Italy raised more than a few eyebrows when he suggested that cohabitation outside marriage was a worse sin than murder. He has since been forced to apologize.

In a newsletter which was distributed during Sunday mass in the parish of Cameri, Novara, Father Tarcisio Vicario made a distinction between the sins of murder and cohabitation.

While murder is an “occasional” sin which can be erased “through sincere repentance”, living with someone outside of marriage is a more “serious” sin because you are living in “continual infidelity”, the priest wrote.

As a result, he continued, those living together outside of marriage are unable to fulfill the role of godfather and godmother because they would not be able to teach their godchildren the “correct Christian way”.

The Bishop of Novara, Franco Giulio Brambilla, was quick to condemn the priest's remarks and issued an apology on the diocese’s website.

“The example, even if it was written in parentheses, was inappropriate, misleading and therefore wrong,” wrote the bishop, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

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“[It was] inappropriate and incorrect in the way it simplifies a complex phenomenon that touches the consciences of all and the suffering and the struggles of many families.”

On Monday, Father Vicario wrote a letter of apology to his parishioners.   

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