More to the Story Than Simply an Exorcism

July 22, 2013

While reviewing news stories and opinion pieces for this blog, I tend to avoid pieces which scream of sensationalism, of which there are many since this blog deals with two journalistically volatile topics:  religion and sexuality.

Image from the movie "The Exorcist"

Image from the movie “The Exorcist”

One story came across my computer screen a few weeks ago about a priest in Italy recommending an exorcism for a young gay man.   Reading the headline, I initially wrote this off as a sensational story.  Yet someone sent me the link recently, and when I read the whole story, I realized there was more to it than just the exciting headline.

Indeed, the story is not so much about  the priest, but about a mother who is a strong advocate for her son and LGBT people.

Gay Star News  reported the incident this way:

“A faithful Catholic mom was comanded to get an exorcist and leave the church, after her priest discovered her teenage son was gay.

“His condemnation came after she begged him to read a letter to his congregation in favor of gay rights on behalf of her and her son.

“But he replied: ‘Your son is a devil. So, please, go to an exorcist. And, please, leave this church.’

“The incident earlier this month in Palermo, the capital of the Italian island of Sicily, has now been reported by LGBT Christian group Ali d’Aquila.”

But buried in the story is the fact that this mother was a fearless advocate for her son:

According to Ali d’Aquila coordinator Giovanni Capizzi:

“She asked the priest to read a pro-gay letter during the service. But this is how the priest reacted.”

More importantly, Capizzi also noted that he sees this priest’s response as uncharacteristic of the Catholic clergy that he knows:

“Ali d’Aquila is hosted by priest Padre Cosimo Scordato in the San Francesco Saverio church in the Albergheria area in Palermo.

“We have to thank all the wonderful priests who believe in us. Not all the church people are homophobic or anti-gay.

“Some priests don’t want us to pray and hold public meetings, but some of them are really friendly and pro-gay.”

So, far from being a story about  a priest’s ignorant reaction, the story turned out to be about a mother who was advocating her son, and the fact that Catholic priests in Sicily are more welcoming of LGBT people than is usually thought.  I’m glad I read the story past the headline.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Three Italian Cardinals Support Prayer Vigils for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

May 17, 2012

Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and it will be marked around the world with commemorations in scores of countries.

In Italy this year, the Catholic LGBT organization Gionata (translated “Jonathan”) will host prayer vigils around their country.  Three of those vigils will be supported by the local Catholic Cardinal in each location.

GayStarNews reports:

“Three Italian Catholic cardinals have agreed to prayer vigils held by the religious group Gionata for the victims of gay hate and discrimination for the first time.

“LGBT groups will pray for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Milan, Florence and Palermo, in Sicily as part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) to be celebrated . . . in an estimated 100 countries around the world. . . .

“Cardinal Paolo Romeo, in Palermo, . . . [has] backed it, even though he banned the vigil last year. The liturgy there will be celebrated at 9pm . . . in the San Gabriele Arcangelo church.”

The cardinal in Milan is Cardinal Angelo Scola; in Florence, it is Cardinal Giuseppe Bettori.

Let us keep in prayer today all the victims and perpetrators of homophobia and transphobia.  Let us pray, also,  in thanksgiving for these three Catholic Cardinals who are supporting these prayer vigils.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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