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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 11, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 46
Vatican denies God sent earthquakes to punish Italy for same-sex civil unions
Section One
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Vatican denies God sent earthquakes to punish Italy for same-sex civil unions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Vatican has denied the claim of a right-wing Catholic radio station that God sent the recent earthquakes to Italy as punishment for same-sex civil unions.

Fr. John Cavalcoli - called by some Italian commentators a 'modern Savonarola' - said on Radio Maria that the earthquakes, which killed hundreds of Italians, were divine retribution for the Italian parliament's approval of same-sex civil unions in May.

Savonarola was a 15th century Dominican monk who condemned both high church officials and civil authorities in his native Florence. He was eventually burned for heresy.

While the Vatican did not threaten Fr. Cavalcoli with the stake, they were clearly not pleased by his comments.

'They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for those who do not believe,' said Monsignor Angelo Becciu, deputy secretary of state, who is said to be close to Pope Francis.

Monsignor Becciu said Radio Maria, which has come under criticism in the past for anti-Semitic commentary, had to 'moderate the tone of its language' and conform to the church's message of mercy.

Radio Maria, which broadcasts in English and Spanish as well as Italian, has suspended Fr. Cavalcoli, and his superiors have reportedly asked him never to discuss the issue again.

The station is inspired by 'Our Lady of Medjugorje,' the reported apparition of the Virgin Mary in a Croatian village in 1981. Unlike the 1917 'Lady of Fatima' apparitions, the Catholic Church has not officially sanctioned the Medjugorje reports, but it does not forbid Catholics from believing in them.

Cavalcoli's commentary provoked anger both from Italy's LGBT community and also from victims of the earthquakes.

One media anchor who lost his house during the earthquake said, 'It is unbelievable that such comments are heard, even though I lost all my belongings I still thank God for my family and pray every day. It is unthinkable for me to even think that God wanted to punish us. These ideas are derived from medieval times and should not be mentioned in 2016.'

Catholic bishops from the zones hit by the quakes were reportedly furious at Cavalcoli and asked the Vatican to silence him.

The civil unions law passed in May provides same-sex couples with many - but not all - of the rights of marriage. A provision in the legislation that would have granted nonbiological parents in same-sex civil unions some parental rights was struck from the legislation.

As a compromise, however, a proposed requirement for 'faithfulness' in civil unions was also struck from the bill.

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