Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jail for insulting the Pope?

Found this via New Humanist blog. Seems its not OK to insult either the Pope or the Italian Prime Minister.

The Times reports :

An Italian comedienne who said that Pope Benedict XVI would go to Hell and be tormented by homosexual demons is facing a prison term of up to five years.

Addressing a Rome rally in July, Sabrina Guzzanti warmed up with a few gags about Silvio Berlusconi ...

But then she got religion, and after warning everyone that within 20 years Italian teachers would be vetted and chosen by the Vatican, she got to the punchline: "But then, within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be — in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils, and very active ones, not passive ones."

She is facing prosecution for "offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person" of Benedict XVI.

Giovanni Ferrara, the Rome prosecutor, is invoking the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican, which stipulates that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President. Prosecution requires authorisation from the Ministry of Justice, for which Mr Ferrara has applied.


The move to prosecute her over her anti-papal remarks was praised by some on the centre Right, including Luca Volonte, a Christian Democrat, who said that "gratuitous insults must be punished".

This law doesn't have a very good pedigree :

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this law comes from the 1929 Lateran Treaty, in which Mussolini agreed to allow the Vatican to exist as a state, and it gives the Pope "sacred and inviolable" status alongside, funnily enough, the Italian president (or PM as it would have been in Il Duce's day).

That's quite a scary law that says the Pope or the President can't be insulted, especially since Berlusconi wields such power over the media . Does anyone know if this law has been enforced in recent times?

If the Pope is so honourable why doesn't he call for a law enacted by Fascists to be repealed ?

No person or belief system should be privileged as "sacred and inviolable," beyond satire , insults or criticism .