ROME, May 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The well-known pro-abortion and pro-homosexual Italian priest who passed away this week has received warm remembrances from Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, while the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has recalled a “friendly and respectful” relationship with the priest. Earlier this week LifeSiteNews reported how a prominent “transsexual” gay activist received Holy Communion at Don (Fr.) Andrea Gallo’s funeral mass at the hands of Cardinal Bagnasco.
Don Gallo, who had frequently berated the Catholic Church for refusing to accept homosexuality, was one of Italy’s most prominent Catholic priests. He was loved by the secular media and the far left and his death and funeral has made front page headlines throughout Italy, where he was a well known, vocal opponent of numerous Catholic teachings.
Gallo was known mostly for his support for Marxist-inspired “Liberation Theology,” and opposition to Catholic teaching on abortion, homosexuality, artificial contraception, female ordination, divorce and the celibate priesthood as well as his heavy criticism of the hierarchical structure and governance of the Catholic Church.
In 1998, Gallo admitted to procuring abortions for prostitutes associated with the Community of San Benedetto.
“I helped the Albanian prostitutes to have abortions,” he said. “I have advised them not to do it but when they told me, however, that ‘I wanted to abort,’ I addressed [the matter] to a doctor friend, who performed the surgery.”
In 2008, Gallo defended Ermanno Rossi, the gynecologist who was at the time under investigation for conducting illegal abortions.
Cardinal Bertone, as quoted by Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s quasi-official newspaper, said he had remembered his former classmate, a fellow member of the Salesian order, in his prayers. He added that he had enjoyed a “friendly and respectful relationship” with Don Gallo and “a frank and lively dialogue at times.” But Bertone added that Gallo’s “dedication to the needy” could not alone be the “spring” that “inspired his priestly identity.”
Cardinal Bagnasco was quoted as saying that in the Community of St. Benedict he had founded, Don Gallo was “engaging in a systematic recovery of the disadvantaged.”
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“He has worked in this community, always helped by the archbishops of Genoa.” In the six years, “since I returned to Genoa as archbishop,” the cardinal continued, “I met him several times in a relationship of dialogue, fairness, clarity and paternity on my part. Of affection and friendship on his part.” Bagnasco spoke of the times he had given Gallo “explanations” on “situations that could create confusion.”
“And in this dialogue, we have had a relationship always very friendly and respectful.” Bagnasco expressed his desire to officiate at Gallo’s funeral.
Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops and Vatican Radio’s Italian edition, was more forthcoming, calling Gallo, “a controversial priest who over the years, even with the laudable intention of bringing the Gospel to the poor, did not always seem to have taken into account what Benedict XVI in his encyclical would have defined the necessary combination of truth and charity.” Avvenire said that Gallo’s “positions not infrequently appeared in open conflict with the teaching of the Church.”
Corriere della Sera’s website ran a video this week showing Cardinal Bagnasco, the archbishop of Genoa, giving Holy Communion to a self-described “transsexual” activist and former Italian parliamentarian Vladimir Luxuria, who spoke at Gallo’s chaotic funeral.
Gallo was known as a “prete di strada” – “street-priest” or “activist-priest” – an expression that in Italy is understood to have strong leftist political overtones. His public work centered mainly on political and economic issues, opposing nuclear arms, privatisation and globalism. He strongly opposed the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and accused Pope John Paul II of having “beheaded” Liberation theology which, he said, “had fully embraced the [Second Vatican] Council”.
“Pope John [XIII] died too soon, and the Roman system has won. It is in control, especially now that we’re back to a pre-conciliar Church,” he said.
Gallo called for the hierarchy to initiate a “Vatican Council III” to focus on “three themes: the poverty of the Church, the abolition of compulsory celibacy and the ordination of women.” In the late 1960s, Gallo joined the campaign to legalise “soft” drugs, and was arrested in 1970 at a demonstration for smoking cannabis on the steps of the Genoa City Hall, an incident that led to his removal from the parish and the eventual founding of the Community of St. Benedict.
Cardinal Bagnasco delivered a homily at the funeral, but was interrupted by the hostile crowd, drowned out by chants, boos, whistles and catcalls of “ciao bella,” (goodbye beautiful) and “shame, shame,” until Gallo’s former secretary called for silence. In the streets, the crowd, many wearing red scarves and Communist flags, shouted “santo subito” – “sainthood now”.
About 3000 – some papers said as many as 6000 – turned out for the funeral, including Claudio Burlando, the President of the Liguria region, Marco Doria, the mayor of Genoa for whom Gallo had campaigned, and Paolo Ferrero, the secretary of the Communist party, as well as representatives of the Anarchist Federation.
Among those invited to give eulogies was Moni Ovadia, who said, “I’m a Jew, and an agnostic, but I am convinced that Don Gallo is resurrected. I’ve gone hand in hand with him a good part of my life and I can say he embodied the true spirit of hospitality.”
“We know that God prefers atheists,” Ovadia said. “Pimps, smugglers, whores, this was the chosen people, as the people of Don Gallo.”
Gallo’s celebrity was such that his funeral has received huge coverage in the mainstream secular Italian press, most of it warmly complimentary. Il Fatto Quotidinano ran a commentary piece by fellow leftist activist priest Fr. Paolo Farinella, who described the rain at the wedding as the tears of angels coming down from heaven.
“The rain is a blessing that purifies all to be worthy to participate in the death of a prophet who was loved and who took part in the lives of all those who met him.”
Farinella encapsulated the symbolic meaning of the event, writing, that the “Gallo funeral is the visible emblem of two parallel churches: one of the people, of ‘losers,’ people of flesh and blood, …but who love; and the other one represented by the cardinal who lives in another world, an alien world, with no history and no heart.
“A church lifeless, dead. Don Gallo, dead is alive and lively. The cardinal, living and wrapped in robes and hats, is dead and buried.”