Italy: priests in chains defend 'poorest of poor'

 Two priests were expecting to spend a second night chained to the window of a police station in Caserta, southern Italy, yesterday, in protest at the heavy-handed treatment of immigrants by security forces. Comboni missionaries, Fr Giorgio Poletti, 62, and Fr Francesco Nascimbene , 50, began the protest after local police and military authorities launched a series of operations aimed at combating crime in the area. Fr Giorgio said that police swoops had been completely bungled. He told the Missionary News Service: "Instead of catching criminals they have arrested many innocent people. The security forces broke into some buildings and conducted indiscriminate round-ups. We took action immediately and managed to obtain the release of some of the innocent people." "I attempted several times to explain to the Mayor of Castelvolturno the need to sit down and talk with the immigrants to discuss how we can work together to deal with criminal activities. But the authorities see no other solution then by being confrontational." The missionaries have the support of their entire Comboni community. Yesterday morning they celebrated Mass chained to the window, assisted by other religious. "The Sisters of 'Maria Riparatrice', the Ursulines of Caserta and the Sacramentini Fathers prayed with us and in all probability will join our protest, as to organise shifts in being chained so we can last longer", Fr Giorgio said. The Bishop of Caserta, Monsignor Raffaele Nogaro has also given them his full backing. He said: "Witnessing two priests attempting to defend human life is wonderful. Their action is evangelical. They said there was no other way to call attention to the situation of these people, the poorest of the poor." The priests say they will remain chained until local authorities take the necessary measures to end what they describe as an "extremely critical situation". Source: MISNA

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