Italian Catholic Church scrambles to explain its role in lavish Mafia boss funeral

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An ornate hearse pulled by six, black-plumed horses, carries the body of Vittorio Casamonicato by a Roman Catholic basilica in the Rome suburbs, where a funeral Mass was celebrated August 20, 2015. Casamonica, 65, the head of a notorious Rome crime family, was given a lavish funeral on Thursday, with a helicopter dropping red rose petals on mourners and a brass band playing the theme tune from the "Godfather" movie. Picture taken August 20, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MAFIA-CATHOLIC, originally transmitted on August 24, 2015.

An ornate hearse pulled by six, black-plumed horses, carries the body of Vittorio Casamonicato by a Roman Catholic basilica in the Rome suburbs, where a funeral Mass was celebrated August 20, 2015. Casamonica, 65, the head of a notorious Rome crime family, was given a lavish funeral on Thursday, with a helicopter dropping red rose petals on mourners and a brass band playing the theme tune from the "Godfather" movie. Picture taken August 20, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MAFIA-CATHOLIC, originally transmitted on August 24, 2015.

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ROME (RNS) In the days following the funeral, the church tried to distance itself from the spectacle, with Auxiliary Bishop Giuseppe Mariante stating church officials did not know the ceremony would be accompanied by “Mafia propaganda.”

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  • Greg1

    Quote: “Now the Roman Catholic Church is grappling with its role in the extravagant funeral as it wrestles with how it might continue to offer the sacraments to members of crime syndicates without appearing to condone their lifestyles.” Later in the article it speaks of the last rites, which are indeed three of the sacraments of salvation, but a funeral is merely a rite, and does not confer grace, as the recipient is already dead. The sacraments of salvation that our Lord Jesus has given to the Church are: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, confession marriage, anointing of the sick, and holy orders (the apostolic priesthood). Those seven sacraments are conferred upon living persons, and communicate various graces to the recipients. The last rites are the anointing of the sick, confession, and the Eucharist. And any Catholic can request those from the Church should they exhibit sorrow for their past lives of sin.

  • Dominic

    I think the Church made a big oops on this one.

  • Greg1

    I’m not sure what to make of it. I’d need to read more on what illegal things they might have been up to. But either way, I’ll say that I hope the man was able to receive the last rites prior to his death; in fact, I hope every Catholic realizes that you don’t want to leave this world without first receiving the Sacraments of Confession (John 20:23), the Anointing of the Sick (James 5:14-15), and the Eucharist (John 6:27-60). The carriage, however, certainly looks a little gaudy. But … then again, we have people in the USA going to great excess during both weddings and funerals. Personally, I only want to receive my sacraments before I bite the big one, and my family can then put me in a wooden box and stuff me in the ground.

  • Getting divorced, marrying outside the faith, the church disowns you.

    Make tons of money through murder, extortion, and racketeering, no big deal.

    Hypocrisy is not a bug of religion, its a feature.

  • John from Nebraska

    “Of course, if we had had the suspicion of a show of this type, we would have taken precautions,” Mariante was quoted as saying in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi official newspaper. “We absolutely would not have accepted conducting that funeral.”

    They buried a mafia boss, and they didn’t have a SUSPICION it might go sideways?

    Nobody noticed the signs on the wall before or DURING the liturgy? No one noticed the POSTERS reading, “King of Rome” and “You have conquered Rome, now you will conquer heaven.”???

    I bet Francis enjoys giving guys like Auxiliary Bishop Giuseppe Mariante their early retirement papers. May he do so soon.

  • Pope to Mafia:
    “I have an offer you can’t refuse, accept it or be condemned.”

    Mafia to Pope:
    “That’s funny, we were going to offer you the same thing”

  • Greg1

    We need to see the investigative report on what this Mafia boss actually did. And I will say this much, if ANY Catholic Christian is sorry for what they have done, they have the right to the final sacraments. And no sin is beyond our Lord’s mercy. When God is slaughtered on the cross, there is no limit to the merits of that sacrifice. And — I might add — when a person dies in the state of grace, then to die is to gain (Phil 1:21). So a high flung funeral might be merited. I’ve read several accounts of a party being held after the funeral, to celebrate eternal life for the departed person. But I have a feeling that in this situation, that might not be the case. At any rate, only God Judges after we die, so let Him do the Judging here.

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  • Rizzo

    Why is the article pointing fingers at Calabria – wasn’t this funeral in Rome?

  • Dominic

    You’re right, Greg. The man could have been fully forgiven via the last rites, but I’m surprised with the Pope’s very vocal condemnation of the mob that such an ostentatious funeral could have gone unnoticed in Rome. Not really an important issue anyway…just more fodder for Catholic bashers.

  • Rick C

    The Church is not a court where legalities are ironed out. The Church simply cannot pass judgement on people because there is no process to reveal the pertinent facts.

    The Church did what they are there to do, the last rites. The judgement is left to the creator after that or to the justice system before that.

  • Larry

    Whatever excuses make you feel better. This sort of equivocation certainly undermines any pretense of moral authority such a church may present itself with.

    But that is also what you get for putting such faith and importance in such organizations.

  • Larry

    “The Church simply cannot pass judgement on people because there is no process to reveal the pertinent facts.”

    Its never stopped them before. The Catholic Church has certainly had its fair share of condemnation of people and things without bothering to learn the facts (or care about them).

    Of course this sort of attitude towards various rites never seems to be present when various Bishops and Cardinals talk about denying communion to people who do not follow the Church’s political positions. The Church only gives a pass to people for such things when it is expedient for them to do so. Hypocrisy is not a flaw of religious belief, it is an integral part of it.

  • Dominic

    You get more irrelevant with every post, Larry.The vast majority of the world, including the intelligencia, submit to religious organizations and the moral codes they profess. Religion is the moral foundation of civilization, most perfectly expressed by the Catholics. This funeral is an oversight, not a hypocritical act on the part of the Church. It is to the family’s low.brow acceptance of mob crimes as “righteous” that is the enormous sin on all its members that nod to its continuance. So, they duped the church at funeral time? That sin is on them.

  • Larry

    I am not the one making excuses for last rites on murderers and refusing communion for progressive politicians. That is all you.

    “The vast majority of the world, including the intelligencia, submit to religious organizations and the moral codes they profess.”

    Few if any claim their morality is dictated by the dogma of any given church. Especially since there are few religions which preach treating other faiths with basic decency and civility. In modern civilized society, that won’t do at all.

    Such “submission” is generally reserved for amoral fanatics who like to excuse bad behavior by claiming God gave them a “rubber stamp”.

    In fact even among the Catholic Church, the overwhelming majority of members ignore much of what they say on issues of dogma. Hence gangsters have no qualm about getting huge ostentatious religious funerals without a hint of shame or reluctance. The church wasn’t duped, they didn’t care (until it became convenient to care).

  • Dominic

    Oh, again! The Church can absolutely judge and condemn actions or peoples that promote sin, heresy, or immorality. That is its God-given duty. How it acts on these condemnations is in the manner of the times they are condemned in. The Inquisition was the Religious arm of the secular law, a system to keep civil order at the time.
    Catholics who defy laws governing Communion reception, sin by their own accord. The Church cannot pick out famous hypocrites or try to keep tabs on who is in the proper state of grace for the Eucharist. It is the duty of the individual Catholic. Perhaps the Host received loses its miraculous transformation when received by a sinner….who knows? God cannot dwell in the same area as sin.

  • Dominic

    Again, wishful thinking, Larry. Modern civilization owes its sense of morality, community, cooperation, and laws to the Christian forces that felled the Roman Empire. The fact that people are conscious of it or not is irrelevant. Barbarous ideologies died away as Christian ethics raised man’s conciuosness of what is moral/immoral for society’s greater good. Of course people corrupt it, that is why the Church exists as the moral reminder until the end of time.

  • Larry

    No it doesn’t. Religion has never been a source of moral thinking. Merely a shorthand. A source of rules, some of them are completely arbitrary and lacking in moral underpinnings.

    If anything religion actually encourages amoral behavior by giving sanction to any sort of activities if one can justify it as somehow divine will. Hence the willingness to commit atrocity in the name of one’s faith is a fairly common thing as is apologia (essentially lying for one’s God).

    The developed world did not become the most peaceful its ever been by following religious dogma. They did so by keeping it in check. Embracing secularism, the respect of all faiths and separation of religion from government.

    Btw the Roman Empire was CHRISTIAN when it fell. You are ignorant of history and relying on really really bad cliche.

  • Larry

    Dominic: “The Church can absolutely judge and condemn actions or peoples that promote sin, heresy, or immorality.”

    So you disagree with Rick C’s “The Church simply cannot pass judgement on people because there is no process to reveal the pertinent facts.”?

    I don’t think so. You said nothing until I chimed in. You are simply looking for excuses for the church and pretending they follow any kind of consistent or morally recognizable behavior.

    “The Church cannot pick out famous hypocrites or try to keep tabs on who is in the proper state of grace for the Eucharist.”

    But you said they can condemn and judge actions. Either they can or they can’t. Which is it?

    Or better yet, never mind. You are not going to give me a rational, sensible or honest answer anyway. God is OK with people lying on his behalf.

  • Dominic

    Give it up, Larry… you,re a dunce.

  • Dominic

    Oh, I’ve of you in a corner, huh? You should be used to it.

  • Greg1

    It is up to the local bishop whether to withhold the Eucharist from public persons in the state of grave sin: Canon 915: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” So it is up to the Ordinary on how to enforce the canon. But like it or not, the Church was established by our Lord, and has the capacity to Judge (Matthew 18:18, John 23:20, Acts 15)

  • Sister Geraldine Marie, OP, RN, PHN

    After reading the comments, people need to know as Adrienne Speyer, a Catholic physician and writer wrote, “When you are a member of the Church, she has a claim on you. You are to confess your sins honestly with a firm purpose of amendment not to commit those sins again OR ABSOLUTION MEANS NOTHING.” One cannot fool the Almighty! And when you walk away from the confessional, you have committed sacrilege (an even greater sin, which will have to be confessed) by lying to the priest who stands in the place of Christ-Messiah. If you then receive Communion, you have committed another sacrilege, which must be confessed. Confessing sins to a priest was commanded by Yah’shua (Jesus) after His resurrection (John 20:23).
    The Mafia do not lead Christian lives and are therefore not permitted to receive a Christian burial. If their repentance is public, that would be another matter.

  • Ben in Oakland

    “and laws to the Christian forces that felled the Roman Empire.”

    Tee hee. so it WAS Christianity that caused rome to fall. And all of this time, conservative Christians have been blaming gay people. But we are used to your projecting your sins upon us.

    except, of course, that it didn’t. But that’s what not reading history books will do to you. you start believing just about anything.

  • Larry

    Dominic, I caught you making crap up. If you think they have a right to judge who gets rites, then the church made a good in giving them to a gangster. That is unless you think murder, theft and extortion are just minor venal sins. It well may be. Christian notions of morality have nothing to do with actual moral thinking. It’s that kind of moral decay by Christianity which doomed the Roman Empire 😉

  • Larry

    made a “goof” not made a good.

    Damn smartphone/sausage fingers. 🙂

  • Sister,

    “…to the priest who stands in the place of Christ-Messiah..”

    OH for crying out loud! You can’t believe this drivel.

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