Friday, September 12, 2008

Italian Prosecutors Charge Satirist With Offending the Pope

The Lateran Pacts of 1929 between Italy and the Vatican provides (Conciliation Treaty, Art. 8) that: "All offences or public insults committed within Italian territory against the person of the Supreme Pontiff, whether by means of speeches, acts, or writings, shall be punished in the same manner as offences and insults against the person of the King." Pink News reported yesterday that Italy's Ministry of Justice has given prosecutors in Rome permission to proceed under the Lateran Treaty against comedienne and satirist Sabina Guzzanti. She is charged with "offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person" of Pope Benedict XVI. During a comedy routine Guzzanti criticized the Vatican's interference in issues such as gay rights, saying: "Within twenty years the Pope will be where he ought to be, in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils..."


Chimera said...


She's a court jester. Satirizing and criticizing pompous personages is her job.

Kings always gave broad latitude and immunity to their jesters. It was the only way most of them ever heard things that might offend them, but which were necessary for them to know.

A L R said...

Except that he's not the King ... If you want to look at it from a historical perspective, religious personages have always considered themselves above royalty and entirely ineffable (which is, of course, why Henry threw off Catholicism when the Pope wouldn't give him the annulment he wanted). Whether or not any government should endorse this thinking as the Italian government seems to be doing--well, that's another matter.

CrypticLife said...

"shall be punished in the same manner as offences and insults against the person of the King."

Um, so what's the punishment right now for insulting the King? 'Cause I'm pretty sure it's nothing.

Chimera said...

Alr, if you read the opening paragraph of that treaty, it does indeed establish the pope as a monarch -- a king.

Article 8 is the pertinent one.

Now, the interesting part of this is that, as of 1946, Italy no longer has a king. It is a republic, and a secular republic, at that.

So...I'd venture to guess that without a specific penalty to which to refer, the treaty having been invalidated in 1946 by the abdication of Umberto II, a half-awake defense attourney can get this thrown out of court before he even has his morning espresso.