Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only In Italy is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news sources in Italy.
Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.
 
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March 2007
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  "The Hunt For Jesus"

(03/12/07)

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"Che si dice?" Welcome to another religious and prophetic edition of "Only In Italy".

I'm one of those stupid Italian-American's who wanted to see my heritage race, so I went to work for an American Company on air defense systems and assigned to Italy.

After just four months, I wanted outta there and so went to the Rome office to quit and return to America. I wanted no more to do with my heritage race, I wanted no connections with those nuts! One long story after another, much to my regret, I'm stuck in the cursed place because of family ties. My advice is don't throw coins in that damned fountain in Rome, it's cursed!

Rome, Capitol of the world, but thank your lucky stars if your not governed by it! Al

Thanks for your touching letter, Al. It overflows with amore.

However; you were too vague in your complaints. Were you referring to the:

- 3-4 month wait for a driver's license,
- dealing with the pure evil at "Telecom Italia",
- paying around 18 cents a minute to talk to someone at customer service for a problem that probably isn't your fault,
- waiting for 5 months to get a ticket reimbursement from "Trenitalia",
- or the paying of 5 cents for plastic bags at some grocery stores?

Does this mean you will not be sticking around for Easter to munch down a sheep made from "pasta di mandorle" (almond paste)?

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,             
"Only In Italy" Staff      


Anti-Mafia Agents On The Hunt For Jesus

Rome - March 9, 2007 - The Cosa Nostra's "boss of bosses", who was seized last year after 43 years on the run, had a powerful and as yet unidentified protector whom he referred to as "my Adored Jesus Christ". Bernardo Provenzano, "capo di tutti i capi" since the mid-1990s, was arrested last April at a farm building near the Sicilian town of Corleone.

A book published yesterday, co-authored by one of the prosecutors who captured him, reveals that putting a name and face to the mystery accomplice has become the top priority of Italy's anti-mafia investigators.

Il Codice Provenzano, whose authors include a deputy chief prosecutor of Palermo, Michele Prestipino, describes the efforts made by investigators to understand the coded notes Mr. Provenzano sent his lieutenants. In one, he mentioned an episode in which he had nearly been captured. But, he added, "my Adored Jesus Christ took care of things". The authors said it was impossible to know if the mafia chief's protector was a top politician or a spy deep inside the Italian security apparatus.

The decoded messages suggest "Jesus Christ" also wrecked a March 2002 surveillance operation that might have helped to net Mr. Provenzano. The Carabinieri got wind of a Cosa Nostra summit in a farmhouse and fitted a camera. At the start of the meeting, one of the bosses made a sign to be quiet then the surveillance team lost all sound and the camera was turned to show only the feet of those present.

When Mr. Provenzano was arrested, he had several extensively annotated Bibles. Last September, investigators sent them to the FBI to see if American code-breakers could make sense of them.

"43 Anni, Gesu Cristo!" The investigators have to hunt down this "Adored" Jesus along with his numerous apostles. Rest assure they're breaking bread and drinking wine in the Italian Parliament and the courts and police stations in Sicily.

Matthew 8:5-13: Jesus healed the servant of a centurion at Capernaum without any contact with the ill man.
In 2002, the "Adored Jesus Christ" helped heal Bernie by arranging for him to travel to France, despite being a fugitive, and undergo a surgical operation in Marseille for a prostate tumor, even being reimbursed by the Italian National Health Care system.

Luke 5:4-9: After a fruitless night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee, Peter receives a command from Jesus to lower his nets again. This time so much fish is caught that Peter's nets begin to break.
On January 25, 2005, police raided various homes in Sicily and netted forty-six Mafia suspects believed to be helping Bernie elude the authorities. Two months later another raid, which netted over eighty Mafiosi took place, although yet again, thanks to the "Adored Jesus Christ", Bernie was the fish that got away.

Fact: Provenzano was considered a master of disguises, once dressing as a Catholic bishop to attend a secret Mafia meeting.

43 years on the run! Oh, how I wish I was Pontius Pilate so I could punch him in his "adored" face.

 

The Search for God In Italy

Rome - March 10, 2007 - The faithful lowered their heads in prayer as the priest celebrated Mass. The only peculiarity about the act of worship was its setting: A garage-like space inside an apartment building, with an altar made of bamboo.

It was supposed to be temporary, but the Rev. Arnaldo D'Innocenzo's makeshift church in this desolate, working class community on Rome's western outskirts has been serving local parishioners for more than 30 years.

About 12 miles east, in the historic center of Rome, tourists mill about the 400-year-old Baroque Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, admiring the trompe l'oeil frescos on the ceiling and the relics of saints.

But regular worshippers there are few and far between.

It's a situation that has been confounding the Diocese of Rome, the very heart of the Roman Catholic world: The magnificent churches of the city center serve more as museums than houses of prayer, while many among the burgeoning throngs of the faithful in the scrappy outskirts of town are forced to worship in garages, former grocery stores, or prefab buildings.

One reason is that there is a higher concentration of regular churchgoers among the poor Italians and eastern European immigrants living in the suburbs than among the more affluent Romans in the heart of the city. Much of the center also has been taken over by commercial spaces and government buildings resulting in lower population density.

"The problem in Rome is the high concentration of churches. But you can't ship them out, they're historical," Rev. Ferruccio Romanin, rector of St. Ignatius Loyola said. "There's no solid group (of worshippers) here. They change. They'll come and say, 'Oh, what a nice sermon,' and then they leave and I never see them again."

Bishop Ernesto Mandara, who is in charge of building new churches within the diocese, says huge amounts of church funds go into the upkeep of the glorious churches of the city center at the expense of the suburban parishes. He said priests who have been waiting for a church for years often lobby him for a new building.

"Sometimes I live as if I were surrounded by creditors I have to hide from parish priests, some of whom live in dire situations," Mandara said.

At his parish of San Patrizio a Colle della Mentuccia, D'Innocenzo described the frustration he has lived through waiting for a church.

"I've been here 33 years," he said. "I've become an old man."

He said generations of children have been baptized and received their first Communion in his ramshackle church, but nobody wants to get married there. "They all looked for a more beautiful church," he said.

"At the root of the problem is how to keep up these structures that from a pastoral point of view are not needed, but that are artistic treasures," Mandara said. "The problem of the new churches in Rome is an absurd problem."

Mandara said there are 19 existing parishes that still do not have churches, and finding the money to do so can be a struggle. The average cost of building a parish church is between $4.62 million and $5.28 million, with half the funding coming from tax payments to the church, and the other half coming from the diocese.

Raising money can be a challenge in working class neighborhoods.

"Getting economic help from the new neighborhoods is difficult, but not for lack of generosity," Mandara said. "Often, it's young couples with a mortgage. I can't ask people with mortgages to give me money."

About 500 faithful who attend Mass gather in what was probably supposed to be a grocery store. A purple neon sign over the door identifies it as a church and inside, electric stoves keep people warm. Catechism lessons are held in a musty underground garage.

"For one hour it doesn't harm anyone, but for anything more than that it becomes a health issue," said the Rev. Danilo Bissacco, who heads the parish.

His flock has grown over the last 30 years. The audience for his very first Mass in the parish of San Patrizio a Colle della Mentuccia consisted of "four adults who had come to take a look and five children."

The new church is more imposing, with the altar high above the congregation. It's undoubtedly a better facility, but it also has made D'Innocenzo appreciate some aspects of his cramped quarters.

"I'm sorry to lose this direct rapport," he said.

The Italian population is 95% baptized Catholic, but 14% never go to church and weekly mass attendance has been steadily dropping. Why? because God is not in his heaven; he is definitely here and in the Italian political arena.

The Roman Catholic Church has made the holy decision to relaunch the Church in Italy as a political force. A mass being held somewhere in a garage on bad patio furniture cannot be considered one of its top concerns.

The Church and the Italian state have endured a long and uneasy marital affair. While the wacky Mussolini made the Vatican independent from Italy, there is some debate about the extent to which Italy is truly independent from the Vatican.

After Mussolini was deposed and hung by his feet in a piazza and after the end of WWII, the Catholic Church wielded power in Italy through political ninkompoops called the "Christian Democrats", so thoroughly discredited by corruption scandals (even by elementary school children) that the party was dissolved in the early 1990s after its last Premier, the magnificent Giulio Andreotti, was found by a court to have extensive Mafia ties. But now, following 15 years of enforced slumber, the Roman Catholic Church is back!

Recent events prove that the Vatican still wields enough power to have a direct impact on the affairs of the Italian state, and under the right circumstances it can even bring down a government as it did several weeks ago. Prodi's new government is Italy's 62nd in just under 61 years!

So, just smile, pray and give thanks to the Lord the next time you attend a mass in Italy; even if its held in aisle 3 of the local supermarket.

 

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Pope Once Tried To Stop Bob Dylan Concert

Vatican City - March 8, 2007 - Pope Benedict XVI tried to bar Bob Dylan from a Roman Catholic youth rally in Italy, fearing he was a prophet whose message differed from Pope John Paul II's.

In his memoirs about his predecessor, Pope Benedict recalled events of the World Eucharist Congress in Bologna, Italy, in 1997, and the 300,000-plus crowd about to hear Dylan's songs and their messages that didn't necessarily mirror church teachings.

"The Pope appeared tired, exhausted. At that very moment the stars arrived, Bob Dylan and others whose names I do not remember," Benedict wrote. "They had a completely different message from the one which the Pope had. There was reason to be skeptical. I was, and in some ways I still am over whether it was really right to allow this type of 'prophet' to appear."

Dylan's set included "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Blowin' in the Wind," which John Paul used as a basis for his sermon.

Benedict, who has called rock and pop music "anti-Christian," last year canceled the Vatican's Christmas fundraising concert and banned guitars from mass.

"Sta pippa!"

Bob Dylan is still considered a prophet?
How dangerous can a 65-year-old hippie be?
Do you know any prophets who can play an anti-Christian guitar and harmonica at the same time?

What did Pope Benedict expect from Dylan; an "Ave Maria" in a-cappela with his growling voice?

It's a good thing the Pope canceled the Vatican Christmas concerts.

If you ever have the chance, listen to Vatican Christmas music CDs. The recording quality is poor because the bishops were giving engineering tips in the recording studios. You will always wonder if the musicians are playing the same song and why the altar boys didn't get the mikes closer to the amplifiers.

 

Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
 
 
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