ROME (CNS) — Television programs, coffee bars, Italian Twitter accounts and the corridors of political power were abuzz Aug. 20-21 with news and commentary about the extravagance surrounding the funeral of the reputed boss of an organized crime ring in Rome.
The funeral Mass for Vittorio Casamonica, 65, was celebrated at St. John Bosco Church in southeast Rome Aug. 20. His body was carried to the church in an antique gilded black hearse drawn by six black horses. When it arrived at the church, a band outside played the theme song from the film “The Godfather.”
A poster hung over the entrance to the church said, “You conquered Rome, now you will conquer heaven.” Another, taped to a column alongside the entrance, proclaimed him “King of Rome” and featured a photo of Casamonica dressed in a white suit and wearing a large cross, a photo of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and one of the Colosseum.
After the Mass, a helicopter flew over and dropped rose petals, and the coffin was transported to the cemetery in a Rolls-Royce hearse.
Raffaele Clemente, the commander of Rome police, was criticized on Twitter for the police being present, but doing nothing to stop what has been described as a “show funeral.” Clemente responded that the police directed traffic around the church “because that was their obligation.”
Vatican Radio reported Aug. 21 that officials from the Diocese of Rome were “ashamed” at the “Hollywood scene” outside the church, but insisted church officials had no control over what happened on city property.
The Mass itself was a normal Catholic funeral “without any element disruptive to the religious climate,” according to the diocese.
“During the Mass, mercy, hope and repentance were the only things talked about. What happened outside — diocesan sources said — was done without authorization,” Vatican Radio reported.
When Casamonica’s family requested the funeral, the sources said, “the pastor evaluated it on the basis of canon law and could not refuse to celebrate the funeral.”
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino and Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano have called for investigations into how the scene outside the church was planned and executed.
Marino tweeted late Aug. 20, “It is intolerable that funerals become instruments for the living to send mafia messages.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103