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In response to Italy’s declining birth rate, a priest in Tuscany is giving out a “baby bonus” to encourage larger families. The appropriately named Fr. Stefano Bimbi (bimbi means babies or children in Italian) is offering 2,000 ($2,360) to couples in Staggia Senese, a medieval walled town that lies between Siena and Florence, who want to have more children but are worried about the cost. There are a few conditions: Couples must be Italian and committed Catholics who were married in the Church, and the bonus only kicks in with the birth of their third child. The money comes from the local parish and will be paid out until the funds are exhausted. Fr. Bimbi has appealed for more contributions, and if more money becomes available, he will extend the offer to migrants and other foreigners living in the town (Telegraph, Aug. 11).
Police arrived at St. Casimir School in Hammond, Indiana, one Sunday evening in August in response to a report of “an adult male in a state of undress inside of the school,” said Police Lt. Richard Hoyda. The Diocese of Gary later identified the naked intruder as Fr. William O’Toole, pastor of St. Casimir parish. Officials clarified that “there were certainly no children present.” The priest stepped down and was placed on a leave of absence pending a psychological evaluation at the request of his bishop. Unfortunately, the incident came to light during the school’s parent orientation when the principal read a prepared statement. “You could hear a pin drop in that room,” one parent said. As officials “hemmed and hawed” on whether the priest would be allowed back, parents considered removing their children from the school (Nwitimes. com, Aug. 20).
The funeral of mafia kingpin Vittorio Casamonica included a horse-drawn carriage, flower petals strewn from a helicopter, and a brass band playing theme music from The Godfather. Banners outside the church described him as the “King of Rome” and pictured him alongside the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. “You conquered Rome, now you’ll conquer paradise,” read one banner (Catholic News Agency, Aug. 22). Roman politicians were furious. “Never again. Rome cannot be defaced by those who want it to become the set of The Godfather,” Matteo Orfini, president of the ruling Democratic Party, said on Twitter. Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said it was “intolerable that funerals are used by the living to send mafia messages.” Left Ecology Liberty party leaders added, “These funerals might seem like a folkloric custom, but in reality they send a clear message of impunity on the part of the clans: we still exist and we are powerful.”
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