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Beyond parody: a priest wearing a Nazi arm-band

April 29, 2009

The stunt pulled by a priest* who was recently pictured outside a Catholic Church sporting a Nazi swastika armband is beneath contempt.

Canonically speaking, I think Fr. Angelo Idi is in plain violation of, among various other norms, Canon 285.1, which requires priests to “refrain from all those things which are unbecoming to their state”. Now, this general canon can easily be supplemented by a specific personal precept (c. 49) against wearing Nazi gear, and such a precept could in turn be enforced by penalty (c. 1321). Personally, I think an excellent penalty for a priest honoring Nazism would be his dismissal from the clerical state (cc. 290, 1425). Yes, I understand that c. 1319 might be raised as an obstacle to my proposal, but I think there are canonically sound ways to address that concern, albeit discussion of these ways exceeds the limits of a blog post.

As a layman, Mr. Idi might be ignored as just one more kook; but as a priest, Fr. Idi’s execrable stunt is being flashed around the world. We need no more disasters in the priesthood. When a cleric shows himself so obviously unfit for sacred ministry, I say, expel him (and try to figure out, if possible, how he ever got ordained in the first place.) + + +

*Same day update: There are now some French and Italian sources that identify Idi as a (lay) “sacristan”. Well, that would simplify things nicely. The Italian source in particular indicates that the local diocese is “taking action.” Good.

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