Catholic and Jewish leaders in Italy condemn scenes in which people gave Nazi salutes and draped a swastika on the coffin. It was the funeral of a right-wing extremist.
Pictures first emerged on Italian news portal Open of the coffin covered by the swastika symbol. The coffin bore the body of Alessia Augello, a former member of the right-wing extremist group Forza Nuova.
Augello, a 44-year-old former militant of Forza Nuova, died over the weekend of a blood clot. Forza Nuova is an ultra-right neo-fascist party created in 1997.
Catholic and Jewish leaders condemn actions
The Rome Catholic archdiocese said in a statement that the priests at the parish of St. Lucia also had no warning of yesterday’s antics at the church.
The diocese statement called the flag “a horrendous symbol that cannot be reconciled with Christianity.”
“This ideological and violent exploitation, especially following an act of worship near a sacred place, remains serious, offensive and unacceptable for the church community of Rome and for all people of good will in our city,” it said.
Rome’s Jewish community meanwhile expressed outrage that such events could still happen.
“It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public in this day and age, especially in a city that saw the deportation of its Jews by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators,” said Jewish leaders in a statement.
The Jewish community statement said the incident was “even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.”
Parish priest, the Rev. Alessandro Zenobbi, distanced himself and the church from what happened. He said, “every word, gesture and symbol used outside the church, which are attributed to extremist ideologies far from the message of the Gospel of Christ.”
Augello family also distance themselves
Meanwhile Stefania Vesica, Augello’s aunt, published a statement on Facebook. In it, she distanced herself and the family from the use of Nazi signs at the funeral.
“We are mourning the loss of our beloved Alessia. We totally dissociate ourselves from the events that took place outside the Church, of which we were not aware of and that neither Alessia would have shared nor appreciated in any way,” she wrote.
She continued, “We would never have allowed or authorised what happened there. We ask that journalists and everyone else, given the gravity of our loss, to respect our pain and the name of Alessia Augello.”