Godfathers are prohibited. New rule in Sicily

New rules in Sicilian churches

The Catholic Diocese of Catania on the Italian island of Sicily has introduced a three-year ban on the appointment of godparents since October.

In Sicily, they decided to ban the godparents. The general vicar of Catania, Salvatore Gristina, explained the prohibition by the fact that the figure of the godfather, which once played an important role in religious education, has now lost all spiritual significance. It became a formality or a way to strengthen the position of the family. The godfathers invite influential figures who have dozens of godchildren, representatives of the Catholic Church say.

Sicilian practice

For example, Salvatore Gristina himself has 15 godchildren, and the former president of Sicily, Salvatore Kuffaro, has about 20. At the same time, according to Kuffaro, he accepted only 5% of all offers to become a godfather.

“Contrary to what some priests think, I paid attention to all my godchildren and instructed them to attend a Catholic school,” said the former president of Sicily.

Although the godfather figure has lost its religious meaning, it still remains an important link between Sicilian families. The social significance of the godfather figure is used by the mafia, and this may have played a role in the ban on godparents in Catania. Italian prosecutors track who has been baptized by underworld bosses to understand how they spread their influence. And the widows of mafia bosses in court denounced the real Judas, who betrayed the bond of baptism, notes The New York Times. In the most famous film about the Italian mafia – The Godfather – the baptism scene is also important.

Mafia tool

In 2017, the Sicilian bishop Michele Pennizi criticized a priest from the town of Corleone in his diocese for allowing the son of Salvatore Riina, the former boss of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra criminal gang, to become the godfather of one of the children born in Corleone. Shortly after this incident, Pennizy introduced a 10-year ban on the participation of members of the mafia in the rite of baptism in his diocese.

“The Mafia has always borrowed the term godfather from the church to give its bosses a kind of religious respectability, although in reality the two worlds are completely incompatible,” said Bishop Pennizy, who has consistently opposed the mafia and was even threatened in 2008 because , which forbade people whose connection with the mafia was proven from participating in funeral ceremonies.

They also tried to remove the mafia bosses from the baptism ceremony in the southern Italian province of Reggio Calabria, which is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina and which is the birthplace of the Ndrangheta group. In 2014, Bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini proposed a 10-year ban on the appointment of godfathers – in part because the figure was exploited by the mafia. However, his proposal was not accepted by the Vatican.

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