A Nazi swastika flag was draped over a coffin at a church funeral, sparking fury.
Police are investigating after shocking photos emerged of the flag covering a coffin at a Roman Catholic church in Rome.
The Vicariate of Rome, the office of the church in the city, slammed the incident as “serious, offensive and unacceptable”.
The church in question was the St. Lucia church in the Prati district, and the funeral was attended by around 24 individuals, all of whom were there to honour Alessia “Tungsy” Augello, who died from “thrombosis complications”, Jewish News reports.
The man was a member of the New Force party, a far-right party which has been seen to be anti-immigration, ultra-conservative, and has recently been protesting against Covid-19 restrictions.
Augello, 44, was supposedly known to be a Forzanovista militant, which is a form of neo-Nazism in Italy.
Nazi salutes were reportedly given, and similar shouts were made, by lines of people at the event.
Pope Francis is technically the bishop of Rome but delegates the day-to-day management of the diocese to his vicar, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, who was among those to express his outrage.
The Roman Jewish community also slammed the funeral.
A spokesman said: “It is even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.
“It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public in this day and age, especially in a city that saw the deportation of its Jews by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators.”
The priest and reverend of the church are both claiming that they were “unaware” of the flag being placed over the coffin.
Alessandro Zenobbi and Paolo Emilio said in a joint statement: “Unfortunately, what happened outside the church at the end of the celebration occurred without any authorisation on the part of the parish priest or the celebrant priest, both of whom were unaware of what was about to occur.
“The diocese of Rome, in its various ecclesial components, has been working with determination for some time to form, educate, and therefore deactivate every mechanism of hatred, opposition, violent ideological, and discriminatory temptation.”
The swastika symbol is primarily recognised for its use by the Nazi party in the West.
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