You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Italian priest blames recent spate of earthquakes on gay civil unions

The Independent logo The Independent 7/11/2016 Adam Lusher
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

An Italian priest has said the recent earthquakes that have shaken the country, killing hundreds and leaving tens of thousands homeless, were "divine punishment" for gay civil unions.

Father Giovanni Cavalcoli, a theologian known for his hardline views, 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 - according to Italian media.

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".

Legislation allowing gay civil unions in Italy only took effect last month, making it the last country in Western Europe to legally recognise same-sex relationships.

The radio station distanced itself from the priest’s views and late on Friday the Vatican issued 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.

© Provided by Independent Print Limited

Becciu asked for forgiveness from victims of the earthquake 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".

The priest is far from being the first 21st Century Christian leader to think homosexuality somehow causes natural disasters.

In 2012, during that year’s presidential election, the right-wing American chaplain John McTernan linked Hurricane Sandy to gay marriage, Barack Obama’s backing of it, and his Republican rival Mitt Romney being – he claimed - “a big-time homosexual supporter.”

“This monster storm aimed at America is not a coincidence,” wrote the founder of Defend and Proclaim the Faith ministries. “What a sign from the holy God of Israel that American politics is an abomination to Him.

“A pro-homosexual Mormon along with a pro-abortion/homosexual, Muslim Brotherhood promoter, Hard Left Fascist are running for president. And there is no cry of repentance from God’s people! I see this storm as a warning from the LORD to call His church to repentance.”

In 2015 the American Christian lobbyist Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council was quoted as saying he agreed that Hurricane Joaquin, which devastated parts of the Bahamas last year, was a sign of God’s wrath.

“God is trying to end us a message,” Mr Perkins was quoted as saying.

In 2016 a flood destroyed Mr Perkins’ Louisiana home. He told the Family Research Council’s radio station, without any apparent awareness of the potential irony: “This is a flood, I would have to say, of near Biblical proportions.”

More from The Independent

The Independent
The Independent
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon