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CRIME

Mafia godfathers can’t be church godfathers, bishop rules

A bishop in Sicily has banned known mafia criminals from acting as godfathers at baptisms in churches in his diocese.

Mafia godfathers can't be church godfathers, bishop rules
Corleone, the town made famous by film 'The Godfather'. Photo: AFP

Michele Pennisi, bishop of Monreale, near Palermo, said Friday he had issued a decree to that effect in a bid to challenge any notion that the bosses of organiZed crime have a paternalistic side to them.

“The mafia has always taken the term Godfather from the Church to give its bosses an air of religious respectability, whereas in fact the two worlds are completely incompatible,” the bishop told AFP.

Pennisi's diocese includes Corleone, a vendetta-haunted village inland from Palermo which was the birthplace of Don Corleone, the fictional Godfather in Mario Puzo's novel and Francis Coppola's films.

In February the bishop made headlines by criticizing a priest who had allowed the son of one of Sicily's most notorious mobsters, Toto Riina, to act as godfather at a baptism.

READ MORE: Church fumes after son of mafia godfather is made child's godfather

That episode led to this week's decree, which he admitted would be tricky to enforce given the culture of 'omerta' – the law of silence – that has hampered Italy's efforts to bring organized crime under control.

If someone has not been convicted we cannot judge people on rumours, without proof,” he said, stressing that his decree did not close the door to mafia figures seeking to repent.

“If one of them admits to having done wrong, asks to be pardoned for the bad they have done, in that case we can discuss a path of conversion.”

In a previous post, in 2008, Pennisi received death threats from the mob after he banned religious funerals for known gangsters.

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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