Fr. Francesco Fragiacomo slammed by media for affirming true marriage
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"What sort of Church is this?!" These were the words of Fr. Francesco Fragiacomo, parish priest in the town of Staranzano, Italy in a striking letter directed to his local vicar. The letter comes many months after the priest objected to the gay civil union of a local scout leader, in charge of teaching Catholic youth.
The controversy started in June, when scout leader Marco Di Just had a public gay civil union ceremony with his long-term boyfriend, a town councilor. The service was attended by Fr. Fragiacomo's parochial vicar, who, "as a friend of the couple and as a priest," offered a speech praising the homosexual partnership, saying that "the joy from this public demonstration is like a liberation, a moment of light."
Father Fragiacomo, stunned that something condemned by Catholic teaching was now receiving public endorsement from Church authorities, invited Di Just to consider stepping down as scout. Writing in an article in the parish newspaper, the priest declared:
[W]e're all welcome in Church, but when it comes to Catholic educational responsibilities we must share ... through teaching and by example the ends of the Church in the various aspects of the Christian life. The Church proclaims the greatness and beauty of marriage between a man and a woman. ... [W]e are called to announce the model of family indicated by Jesus.
In an interview with Radio Capital, the priest said he wasn't demanding the scout leader's resignation, but rather he was making the commonsense claim that Di Just "should himself realize that an educator inside a Christian association must see if his life is in accord with Christian values."
Fragiacomo had been reporting the situation to the archdiocese for four years, with no result.
The priest then asked again for the archdiocese of Gorizia to intervene. While the media massacre against the priest continued, his ordinary, Abp. Carlo Roberto Maria Redaelli, instead of supporting him, advised Fr. Fragiacomo against "creating tension and feeding controversies."
Fragiacomo had been reporting the scandal to the archdiocese for four years, with no result.
"I've been trying to get the archbishop involved," Fr. Fragiacomo explained. "I never got any response. People have been talking about this 'wedding' since February. They had time to step in."
When Abp. Redaelli finally decided to speak out, he released a tepid letter glossing over the issue, with prolix discourses invoking "mercy" and "discernment."
"Sacred Scripture isn't presentable as a manual of principles and concrete indications for every single situation in life," the archbishop claimed. "If it worked this way, the problem would be very simple. ... We need time to allow emotions and hurried judgments to settle."
As Di Just continued to perform his duties as a scout leader to young Catholics, and no measures were taken either by Agesci (the Italian Catholic Scouts Association) or by the archdiocese of Gorizia, Fr. Fragiacomo then went forward to express his frustration in a letter to Fr. Renzo Boscarol, stating he wouldn't be attending the next pastoral meeting and explaining why he felt abandoned by his peers.
"How can I trust my brothers, who in this moment of difficulty have distanced themselves, have been absent, or have even turned against me?" he asked. "I now ask: what sort of Church is this? What does it offer?"
"[W]e, as priests, must examine our consciences regarding what we're offering young people," he added.
In a statement to Church Militant, Fr. Fragiacomo declared:
Christians aren't the salt, light and yeast inside the society they live in anymore. ... They aren't the light of truth and authentic love in a confused world lacking hope. ... This type of Church is indeed useless and doomed to vanish. ... Unfortunately this is what is generally happening in Europe. ... Weakness of thought has infiltrated the Church, and we've replaced being "in" the world with being "of" the world. And precisely because we must be in the world, we need to be even more aware of our own identity, of our unique treasure, received directly from Christ, who ordered us to preach it. The weakness of our Shepherds is the eloquent sign [of these times].
Commenting further on the case, he added: “That celebration sent a harmful message… The scout leader is still exercising his function and publicly receiving the Eucharist when present in Mass. The message is this: Marriage between a man and a woman or civil union among people of the same sex are the same thing in the eyes of people and in the eyes of God."
This type of Church is indeed useless and doomed to vanish.
He continued, "[T]he logical conclusion is that ... Jesus and the Bible are obsolete. ... This isn't about discernment. This is about either converting or changing faith."
Does Fr. Fragiacomo fear persecution? "I trust everything to the Lord and continuously ask for the enlightenment and wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit. Along with the prayers of many, I also have serenity, and my heart is at peace."
Church Militant also reached out to Abp. Redaelli, and as of press time received no response.