Italian invents an anti-swine flu holy water dispenser

November 11, 2009

holy-water-1 (Photos: Anti-swine flu holy water dispenser, 10 Nov 2009/Stefano Rellandini)

An Italian inventor has combined faith and ingenuity to come up with a way to keep church traditions alive for the faithful without the fear of contracting swine flu — an electronic holy water dispenser. The terracotta dispenser, used in the northern town of Fornaci di Briosco, functions like an automatic soap dispenser in public washrooms — a churchgoer waves his or her hand under a sensor and the machine spurts out holy water.

UPDATE: Uproar after court says no crucifixes in Italian schools

November 3, 2009

crucifix-italy (Photo: A crucifix in a Rome classroom, 3 Nov 2009/Tony Gentile)

Here’s an update from Phil Pullella in Rome:

Italian Muslims approve pope’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate

October 28, 2009

caritas-in-veritate1When Pope Benedict issued his encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) in July, he addressed it to “the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women religious, the lay faithful and all people of good will”. That list puts Catholics first, but it gets around to a wider audience by the end. Maybe because of that sequence, most of the discussion about the document has been in Catholic circles.

Berlusconi allies seek to ban burqas in Italy

October 8, 2009

niqabItaly’s anti-immigration Northern League party is pushing for legislation to prosecute women who cover their faces with burqas and veils, prompting a new debate on Muslims’ religious freedom in the Catholic country.

A new taint on the Shroud of Turin?

October 6, 2009

shroud-faces (Photo: An archive negative image of the Shroud of Turin (L) next to one created by Luigi Garlaschelli and released in Pavia, Italy, on 5 Oct 2009/Turin Diocese (L) and Luigi Garlaschelli (R)/Turin Diocese (L) and Luigi Garlaschelli)

Italian scientist Luigi Garlaschelli tells me he has been getting lots of hate mail as well as emails of support since our Oct 5 story that he had reproduced the Shroud of Turin with material available in the Middle Ages, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.

Britain muddles through with assisted suicide guidelines

September 24, 2009

purdyPressure is growing in Europe for some form of legalised euthanasia but few governments have gone as far as the Benelux countries in allowing assisted suicide in clearly defined cases. The mix of growing public support for ending lives of the terminally ill or brain dead but continued prohibitions on it in the law has led to some long and hard-fought legal battles in Italy (Eluana Englaro) and in France (Vincent Humbert).

Italy’s Catholic Church vs. Berlusconi drama, Act II

September 16, 2009

famcriA running crisis in relations between Silvio Berlusconi’s government and the Church deepened when Italy’s top Catholic weekly accused him of acting like a “prince” while many Italians were struggling financially.  A scathing editorial in Famiglia Cristiana, Italy’s largest circulation weekly news magazine, also indirectly criticised the media mogul’s private life and attacked the type of women politicians he has promoted in his centre-right party. And it did so without naming him once. The clever editorial in its online edition on September 16, here in Italian, was unsigned, meaning it was written by the magazine’s editor, Father Antonio Sciortino.

H1N1 flu stops Italians kissing saint’s blood

September 8, 2009

san-gennaroFear of H1N1 flu will stop devout Neapolitan Catholics from performing the time-honoured ritual of kissing the blood of their patron Saint Gennaro when the city’s annual festival begins later this month.

Catholic editor who rapped Berlusconi resigns, but Church may have last laugh

September 3, 2009

giornaleIn the latest — but most likely not final — round in an incredible case of Italian journalistic pugilism, the editor of a Catholic newspaper sparring publicly for a week with the daily owned by the family of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has resigned.  Dino Boffo’s resignation as head of Avvenire, the daily of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, ended an Italian telenovela that had riveted the media for seven consecutive days and even saw indirect involvement by Pope Benedict.

Journalism Italian-style and church-state relations

September 1, 2009

giornale-aug-28-croppedCall it a case of duelling headlines.

For the past few days, a highly personal and often below-the-sash battle has been waged in Italy between two newspapers — Il Giornale, owned by the family of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Avvenire, the daily of the Italian Bishops Conference.  The generals in the battle, which has riveted Italy and has resulted in one of the worst periods for years in relations between church and state here, are the editors-in-chief Vittorio Feltri of Il Giornale and Dino Boffo of Avvenire.