‘Cohabitation is worse sin than murder’: priest

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.

'Cohabitation is worse sin than murder': priest
The letter was distributed among parishioners in the town of Cameri, Novara. Photo: Alessandro Vecchi.

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.

“[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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Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Murders of women in Italy increased by nearly 16 percent over the past year, with the vast majority committed by a partner or ex-partner.

Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Data from Italy’s interior ministry on Monday showed there were 125 femicides between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022, compared with 108 during the same period in the previous year.

Of that number, the vast majority of murders — 108 — were committed within the family sphere or an emotional context, while 68 murders, or 63 percent of the total, were committed by the victim’s partner or ex-partner, data showed.

There were a total of 319 murders in Italy in the period.

The numbers show that, on average, a woman is killed every three days in Italy.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: ‘Violence against women conditions every aspect of our lives’

According to a November report by the European Institute for Gender Equality, Italy came in ninth out of 15 EU member states for the number of murders of women by intimate partners, based on 2018 data.

It came in tenth when looking at homicide committed by family members and relatives.

Womens’ rights campaigners say attitudes must change in Italy, where cases of violent crimes committed against women by their partners or ex-partners are often portrayed in the media as tragic stories of love gone sour, with the killers described as “jealous”.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment

Almost 3.5 million women in Italy have been victims of stalking, according to data from national statistics agency Istat – but only 22 percent of those report the act or seek help.

Around one in three Italian women suffer abuse at some point in their life.

Femicide commonly refers to the killing of a girl or woman by a partner or family member.