Vatican Court Puts Climate Change Activists on Trial

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 9, 2023   

Vandals who damaged priceless sculpture brand Pope Francis a hypocrite

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Climate change activists are facing up to three years in a Vatican jail or a fine of over 3,000 euros for vandalizing a priceless sculpture in the Vatican Museums.

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Vatican Museums

Guido Viero and Ester Goffi, who glued themselves on Aug. 18, 2022, to the statue of "Laocoön and His Sons," have refused to attend the trial that begins Thursday at the Palazzo del Governatorato in Vatican City. 

The campaigners, who belong to the climate alarmist group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), claim they cannot afford legal costs and that the Vatican has grossly exaggerated the costs of repairs to the sculpture.

"Unfortunately, due to our personal economic conditions and the very limited financial resources of Ultima Generazione, we do not intend to come to the Vatican," the duo stated. 

Papal Hypocrisy

In a press release, Viero and Goffi also accused Pope Francis of double standards by noting "the shocking contrast between the pope's words, which incites youth to cry out louder concern for the future of life on Earth, and the way justice is administered in the Vatican State."

Insisting that the damage to the sculpture is minor, the climate alarmists said the prison time and the fines they face are "disproportionate and unjust" compared to "what governments are doing, by implementing suicidal energy and environmental policies, including subsidizing fossil fuels."

Viero and Goffi also accused Pope Francis of double standards.

A technical report cited by the Vatican claimed that repair costs amounted to 15,338.50 euros. 

But a Vatican Museums source who spoke to Church Militant on condition of anonymity said that the repair costs were "inflated and preposterous" because there was no apparent damage inflicted on the sculpture. 


 

Emphasizing that the protest was wrong and did break the law, the source, however, pointed out that the activists were right to claim they did not damage the statue. The insider also said the museums had tightened up security following the incident.

In a document submitted to the Vatican court, the defendants maintained that they had glued themselves to the same surface on the statue where "two QR codes are glued there for the audio guides." 

Viero and Goffi said they had targeted the sculpture of Laocoön because it was symbolic of the climate change warning. 

"Any slight alterations suffered by marble, as a porous material that may have absorbed part of the adhesive, are purely aesthetic in nature and, moreover, are not visible to people who visit museums, who view the statue from behind a barrier," the activists added.

The Vatican has charged the vandals with causing damage to the marble base of the group of sculptures by using "particularly tenacious and corrosive synthetic adhesive." The duo is also accused of resisting orders from the Vatican gendarmerie on duty at the museums.

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Vatican police evacuate tourists from the Laocoön statue

Vatican law imposes severe penalties for anyone who "destroys, disperses, damages or in any way defaces public monuments" and for "anyone who transgresses an order legally given by the competent authority."

The Vatican has also issued a summons for Laura (surname undisclosed), a third activist who supported the duo in filming the vandalism of the statue and in producing video documentation for the public, Ultima Generazione announced on its website.

Symbol of Climate Emergency

Viero and Goffi said they had targeted the sculpture of Laocoön because it was symbolic of the climate change warning they were issuing to humanity. 

Laocoön (Λαοκόων) was a Trojan priest, and seer of the god Poseidon, who warned his fellow Trojans to be cautious of the wooden horse sent as a gift by the Greeks during the Trojan war in order to gain access to the city of Troy. The Trojan horse concealed a posse of armed Greek soldiers.

In order to protect his fellow citizens, Laocoön, who alone could see through the Greeks' ruse, invited the Trojans to leave the horse outside the city walls, uttering the memorable words, "Whatever it is, I'm afraid of Greeks, even those bearing gifts." 

The Trojans did not listen to him and decided to welcome the horse into the city. Undaunted, Laocoön pierced the side of the Trojan horse. But then, two giant serpents sent by the Greek gods Apollo and Athena rose from the sea and strangled the priest and his two sons. 

Any slight alterations suffered by marble are purely aesthetic in nature. 

Even after the brutal death of Laocoön, the Trojans, blinded by their false optimism, shut their eyes to the coming destruction. They misinterpreted the priest's gruesome end, viewing it as a punishment for disrespecting the gift of the Greeks.

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Toppled busts in the Chiaramonti Museum

Two days after the activists glued themselves to the statue, Ultima Generazione wrote an appeal to Pope Francis saying they were "like Laocoön, who tried to warn the citizens of Troy of the deception of the Greeks without being heard." 

"Today, it is scientists, artists, writers, ordinary citizens, the UN secretary general and you yourself, Holy Father, who bring the message of the dramatic urgency to act so we can avoid at least the worst disasters whose tragic force is beginning to be felt," the petition urged.

"The disturbance did not last long, and no damage was done to the block of marble that holds the sculpture," Ultima Generazione said. "The purpose of these people was not to damage the work or the museum or the Vatican state, nor to seek easy media exposure for themselves."

A month after the climate change activists' protest at the Laocoön statue, a 65-year-old American tourist was arrested after toppling two ancient busts in the Vatican Museums. 

The Vatican's Chiaramonti Museum, which houses the busts, estimated that it would cost 15,000 euros and require between 300 and 350 hours of work to repair the works of art. Further, it is unlikely that they will return to the condition they were in before the incident.

The tourist, who had been previously reprimanded in the United States for gross indecency, reportedly told museum staff he wanted to see Pope Francis before throwing the Roman busts to the ground.

 

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