Ban on religious parades after mafia boss homage

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Oppido Mamertina Cathedral in Reggio Calabria. Religious processions have been banned in the town. Photo: Pasquale Livoti/Wikipedia
17:00 CEST+02:00
The bishop of a town in the southern Italian region of Calabria has banned religious processions after a statue of the Virgin Mary was used to honour a notorious crime boss.

A furore was sparked on July 2nd when a procession through the streets of Oppido Mamertina, Reggio Calabria, stopped outside the home of Giuseppe Mazzagatti, whose clan once fed a man alive to pigs.

Churchgoers, carrying the statue, reportedly bent down to make the effigy bow in front of the 82-year-old's house, where he is serving a life sentence under house arrest for health reasons.

As a result, Monsignor Francesco Milito, the bishop of Oppido-Palmi, made the decision to ban religious processions indefinitely, La Repubblica reported on Thursday.

The act was condemned by Nunzio Galantino, head of the Italian episcopal conference, who told Corriere della Sera earlier this week: "Whoever made the Madonna bow has committed a double sin. It twisted the sense of the procession. It's absurd."

But Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who has lived under police protection since infiltrating the Naples mafia, said it was "not a protest by (mafia) members against a Church, which has abandoned them".

"It is a declaration of obedience to the 'Ndrangheta, a confirmation of the promise of fidelity to the saint," he told La Repubblica, explaining that new mobsters swear allegiance to Saint Michael the Archangel, who is regarded by the crime group as their patron saint.

Oppido Mamertina is in the heartland of one of the three principle mafia groups in Italy, the ‘Ndrangheta.

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Last year it was revealed that a mobster was killed by the Mazzagatti clan by being fed alive to pigs, in revenge for the murder of another mafia boss.


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