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Fr. Mattia BernasconiVideo screenshot

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CROTONE, Italy (LifeSIteNews) – The public prosecutor’s office in Crotone, Italy is considering “offence of a religious denomination” charges against a priest who offered Mass shirtless while waist deep in the sea.  

Last Sunday, Fr. Mattia Bernasconi of Milan, Italy enraged faithful Catholics when photographs of him offering Mass shirtless while wading in the sea in Crotone surfaced on social media. While the Archdiocese of Crotone seems to have forgone any disciplinary action with respect to the irreverence, civil authorities continue to weigh their options as it is a criminal offence in the largely Catholic nation of Italy to offend a religious denomination.  

According to a local report, Giuseppe Capoccia, the head of the city’s public prosecutor’s office, has said that an investigation into the “alleged religious celebration” is warranted, and has “delegated” the investigation to the Division for General Investigation and Special Operations, Italy’s secret police division, known simply as “DIGOS.” 

While the civil authorities seem to be taking serious action, the release put out by the archdiocese fails to mention any disciplinary action against the priest, merely mentioning that Bernasconi should have made “contact with the ecclesial leaders” in order to receive advice on the “most appropriate way to carry out a Eucharistic celebration of this kind.” 

Bernasconi, who was offering Mass for young Italians as part of a volunteer summer camp, initially justified his actions, saying it “was hot” and “the pine forest where we had thought of celebrating it [Mass] was full, and spontaneously the idea of celebrating it at sea came up.” 

Since then, Bernasconi has slightly changed his tune, saying the decision to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was “perhaps imprudent.” 

Nonetheless, Catholics remain outraged at what many are calling a “sacrilege.” 

“They ban Latin Mass but this abomination is okay?” asked Catholic commentator Dr. Taylor Marshall.  

“You can have Mass on rafts in the ocean, but how dare you have Mass with attention, reverence, and devotion,” retorted another Catholic, referring to the consistent crackdown on the Traditional Latin Mass by high-ranking prelates.  

The shirtless Mass debacle is one of many controversies Italian clerics have found themselves in recently. 

Just last month, another Italian priest flagrantly denied Church teaching by “blessing” a homosexual couple during Mass while an Italian Bishop earlier this year barred unvaccinated priests from distributing the Eucharist.

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