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A truck billboard honoring the late Cdl. Carlo Caffarra, stalwart defender of orthodoxy and one of the signatories of the dubia, was stopped by Italian police, its hosts detained and questioned.
Italian pro-life groups ProVita Onlus
and Vita è
got together with Catholic publishing house Fede e Cultura
to pay homage
to the deceased archbishop of Bologna. They arranged for a publicity truck
with billboard images of the cardinal and his close friend Pope St. John Paul II to be driven around Rome from November 6 (the two-month anniversary of Caffarra's death) to November 11.
The billboard read, "Thank you, Caffarra," alongside an extract of Pope John Paul II's famous Washington speech
: "When the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness or reduced to a temporary, conditional arrangement that can easily be terminated, we will stand up and affirm the indissolubility of the marriage bond."
Editor and co-founder of Fede e Cultura
, Prof. Giovanni Zenone, stated
that they wanted to remember Caffarra "because he was truly a father, able to direct souls to Christ, both in previous pontificates and in the present times of doctrinal and spiritual disorientation."
"[He] wasn't ambiguous, but had that ... clarity that is a sign of truth and love," Zenone continued. "He did a lot of charity
for the poor, but never publicized it, because for him it was enough that God knew."
Zenone is also a signatory
of the Filial Correction
, a 25-page letter
signed by clergy and scholars asking the Pope to condemn seven potential heresies in Amoris Laetitia
, made worse by the Pope's "words, deeds and omissions." Zenone says he signed the Correction "because the Pope's silence toward the legitimate ... pleas of clarification ... scandalized me and it spurred me to do something as a Catholic. Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas
("Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend")."
On the very first day, the tribute truck
by the Italian Police, and the driver, Toni Brandi (president of ProVita Onlus
), was held
for two hours. Brandi was contacted by one of the chief officers over the phone, who asked him what the purpose of the initiative
was, "since Cardinal Caffarra wasn't aligned with Pope Francis."
To this incredible accusation, Brandi replied that theirs was the celebration of a holy man who was "neither a heretic nor separated from the Pope." Brandi was summoned the next day for further questioning.
Brandi made clear
that the police officers were kind and polite, and that "it seemed as if they'd been forced to do this ugly job." He wondered "who might've ordered them to block the truck."
Church Militant spoke to Brandi, who confirmed all the details of the incident and called it "absolutely shameful."
The interrogation lasted about 45 minutes, during which time Brandi explained the connection between Caffarra and Pope John Paul II (they co-founded the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family). The officers inquired
as to the organizers, whether there were other people behind the billboard, why it was done, and whether the Vatican had been warned
(a needless procedure, as the truck had all the necessary permits to operate in the Italian State).
The officers questioned
their motivates: "Was it an awareness campaign, a protest or simply a celebration?" Brandi was also asked why the need
to celebrate a Bolognese cardinal in Rome.
If the ordeal weren't surreal enough, when faced with Brandi's answer — "because Rome is the home of Christianity; we're a pro-life organization, we wanted to celebrate a defender of life" — one of the officers replied
, "But the Church doesn't talk about life nowadays."
The meeting finished with the president of ProVita disclosing information about his work and providing a number of documents to back up his claims. He was advised to "be careful" when uploading pictures of the truck to the organizers' websites.
Brandi can be seen in the video above praying to Caffarra outside the police station where he had been interrogated. The truck circulated freely throughout Rome over the next days.
is now looking into legal action against the government for violating ther religious freedom, and six members
of the Italian Parliament have already submitted the case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Alessandro Pagano, from Lega Nord
("Northern League"), stated: "We ask the Minister to verify the reasons for the police's anomalous behaviour."
Massimiliano Fedriga, also from Lega Nord, commented, "I presented a query to understand ... the motivations of whoever issued the orders to interrogate ProVita Onlus."
And Eugenia Roccella, from IDEA (the Identity and Action Party) declared that "it's unbelievable that the celebration of ... Cardinal Caffarra ... can be seen as suspicious by the police. We wonder ... who ordered such questioning. It's unacceptable that Christians, persecuted all over the world, have been intimidated in Rome, in the heart of Christianity."
Vatican insider Marco Tosatti mentioned the possibility that the order to detain might have come from inside
the Vatican itself.
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