AN Italian priest has branded recent earthquakes that have shaken the country, killing hundreds and leaving tens of thousands homeless, as ‘divine punishment’ for gay civil unions.
The controversial comments have now sparked the wrath of the Vatican who have moved quickly to refute the outspoken views spoken by theologian Father Giovanni Cavalcoli.
Father Giovanni Cavalcoli has blamed gay unions for the recent earthquakes in Italy
Known for his hard-line views, the priest is reported to have made the comments on October 30, the day central Italy was struck by a 6.6-magnitude quake -- the most powerful to hit the country in 36 years.
The earthquake was the third to rock the same region in just over two months.
Cavalcoli said on Radio Maria that the seismic shocks were “divine punishment” for “the offence to the family and the dignity of marriage, in particular through civil unions.”
The radio station distanced itself from his views with the Vatican also quick to come out with a stinging rebuke, saying the idea of a vengeful God was ‘a pagan vision’ dating from ‘the pre-Christian era’.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, number two in the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State, said Cavalcoli’s comments were “offensive to believers and disgraceful for non-believers”, in remarks reported by Italian media.
Becciu asked for forgiveness from quake victims and reminded them they had the ‘solidarity and support’ of Pope Francis.
But Cavalcoli has refused to back down, insisting to another radio station that earthquakes are indeed caused by “the sins of man” and telling the Vatican to “read their catechism”.
Legislation allowing gay civil unions in Italy only took effect last month, making it the last country in Western Europe to legally recognize same-sex relationships.
Fears were raised this week that Rome could also be under threat from destruction after recent devastating earthquakes.
Catastrophic seismic activity like August’s Amatrice disaster and last month’s two earthquakes which damaged Roman landmarks like St. Paul’s Basilica, could show the dormant Alban Hills near the city are reawakening, scientists have said.
Underground chambers between five and ten kilometers below the Roman suburbs are filling with magma, pushing the ground up by 2-3mm a year, according to a study published by the Geophysical Research Letters journal.