News & Politics

Why Did a Catholic Priest Burn a Photo of the Pope?

An Italian priest burned a photo of the pope during Sunday Mass.

Photo Credit: Maxisport /

An Italian priest burned a photo of the pope in a church during Sunday Mass. The act was done in protest of Pope Benedict’s resignation--not because of the scandals that plagued Benedict’s tenure.

Rev. Andrea Maggi of the Santo Stefano Protomartire church, located in a small northern village in Italy, set fire to a photo of Benedict. He told the press that “it was wonderful” and “compared Captain Francesco Schettino, who is accused of abandoning the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the Italian coast before all passengers were rescued,” according to Reuters. Maggi also said that “he had done the right thing.” He told La Republica that “I had said to myself the day that he goes I will burn this.”

Italian mayor Gian Stefano Orengo gave more details on the incident. “Before starting the homily, the priest took the photo of the pope and he said this is not a pope, this is not a shepherd, he abandoned his flock,” Orengo told a radio station. The mayor added that  “Don Andrea is going through a delicate period from a psychological point of view.”

The burning caused half of the congregation to walk out. The protest act comes as cardinals from around the world gathered in the Vatican to choose the next pope.

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.