Hollywood-style funeral of mobster sparks outrage in Rome

The Hollywood-style funeral of a notorious mobster in Rome has seen anti-Mafia campaigners demanding to know why police and the Catholic Church allowed it.

The funeral of Vittorio Casamonica, 65, on August 20 featured a gilded horse-drawn carriage, flower petals tossed from a helicopter and theme music from “The Godfather”.

The coffin was draped with an image of St Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio).

The Casamonica clan has been accused of racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking, prostitution and usury in the south-east of the city.

Rome city hall said last Thursday that Vittorio Casamonica himself was the subject of “many investigations into Roman criminality”.

A banner on Don Bosco church in Rome’s outskirts read: “”You conquered Rome, now you’ll conquer paradise.”

Another banner proclaimed: “King of Rome” and featured the dead criminal decked out in white with a crucifix to look like the Pope

Fr Giancarlo Manieri said he had no control over what happened outside the church.

Observers said the ceremony inside the church was sober and people followed it with care.

Rome auxiliary Bishop Giuseppe Mariante said Church officials did not know the ceremony would be accompanied by “Mafia propaganda”.

“Of course, if we had had the suspicion of a show of this type, we would have taken precautions,” Bishop Mariante was quoted as saying in L’Osservatore Romano.

“We absolutely would not have accepted conducting that funeral,” the bishop said.

Political reaction to the funeral was swift.

Anti-Mafia campaigner Roberto Saviano hit out at the Church’s apparent acquiescence in the face of such a tawdry event.

“The Church that denied a funeral to Piergiorgio Welby [an Italian man who ended his own life after suffering incurable muscular dystrophy] yesterday granted one in full regalia to the boss, Vittorio Casamonica,” he tweeted.

Politicians called on the interior ministry to explain whether it had given special permits for the ceremony.

In June last year, during a visit to southern Italy, Pope Francis threatened mobsters with excommunication.

In February, the Pope said the Church would welcome such criminals back if they repented.


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