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Interview with Cristiano Lugli of the Blessed Giovanna Scopelli Committee
REGGIO EMILIA, Italy, August 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Reggio Emilia, the birthplace of the Blessed Giovanna Scopelli Committee, is in northern Italy’s Po Valley. “Il Comitato di Beata Giovanna Scopelli” shot to fame in and outside of Italy in May for performing public penance in reparation for Reggio Emilia’s first-ever “Gay Pride” celebrations on June 3. They organized a second reparation in Rimini on July 29 in response to the neighboring town’s second Gay Pride festival.
Although many local religious, priests and bishops have distanced themselves from the Blessed Giovanna Scopelli Committee, the group has received support and blessings from prominent Church figures, Monsignor Luigi Negri, archbishop emeritus of San Marino; American Cardinal Raymond Burke, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider.
The Committee, composed of over 3,000 members, has no president or other hierarchical positions, just five young founders. LifeSiteNews recently interviewed the spokesman for the group, 24-year-old Reggio Emilia native Cristiano Lugli. The following is a reconstruction (and translation) of two separate conversations held the same day.
LSN: When was the Blessed Giovanna Scopelli Committee founded and why?
Lugli: It was founded on May 16, 2017. It was founded simply for the purpose of making reparations [to God] for the “gay pride” [celebrations] of Reggio Emilia, and a new committee was intentionally created so as not to create divisions within the Catholic world. [This was] something new, just for this occasion, so that everyone could be united for a common goal: to make amends for a grave scandal like that of the LGBT parade.
LSN: Why have you chosen Blessed Giovanna Scopelli as your patron saint?
Lugli: Blessed Giovanna Scopelli was a Carmelite nun who lived in the 15th century [1428-1491] in Reggio Emilia. She led a humble life of total abandonment to Providence. In particular, she sacrificed with fasting and praying for the Church all her life. She also fought against the Manichean heresy. We have entrusted ourselves to her [intercession] while we fight — through humility and prayer — in this time so difficult not only for the world but for the Church.
In Reggio Emilia, this Blessed is not thought of often, but thanks to the Committee, devotion to her has spread through Italy. We hope she will always help us.
LSN: Are all the founders so young?
Lugli: We are between the ages of 24 and 30, so all rather young, you would say!
LSN: Are you students?
Lugli: We are already in the workforce. A few are university graduates or, rather, everyone is apart from me.
LSN: What kind of families do you all come from? Traditionalist?
Lugli: All more or less Catholic, but we have all discovered tradition on our own. All the [Committee] founders are married.
LSN: You, too, at 24?
Lugli: Yes, and I have a two-month-old son. Three of the founders have children.
LSN: That’s not typical of Italy.
Lugli: Yes, the low birthrate is a social plague. [We’re unusual] because nobody gets married anymore, and use of contraception is widespread. People no longer have children.
LSN: But why? Why the loss of faith and family in Italy?
Lugli: Because Christ is no longer at the center of life, and the Church makes itself the church of man and no longer the Church of Christ.
LSN: The church of man … So are we talking about the Second Vatican Council or the New Mass?
Lugli: Both. The New Mass comes from the Second Vatican Council. But it’s a peculiar time in which no one believes he can have the authority to tell Catholics what is right or what is wrong to do. It is important to study, pray a lot and be humble. When Rome was corrupt, Saint Benedict retreated to a mountain to sanctify himself: to get out of this crisis, we have to think of sanctifying our own souls. The sanctification of a soul does good to all of society, just as in the case of Blessed Giovanna Scopelli.
LSN: Are there priests in the Committee?
Lugli: A few priests of the Fraternity of the Priests of Saint Pius X and also priests from other dioceses. One priest, especially [active], is from the Diocese of Modena, a city near Reggio-Emilia … Don Giorgio Bellei.
LSN: Is he from the FSSPX?
Lugli: No, not he. [Don Giorgio] is a diocesan parish pastor. Other diocesan priests have supported us, but they haven’t come [to the Committee’s processions] because of previous commitments. We hope that in the future there will be also other diocesan parish priests and not always just [Bellei and] FSSPX priests.
LSN: Why don’t the Italian diocesan bishops encourage you?
Lugli: As Archbishop Negri has said, the Church wants to be a crutch for homosexuality. [The bishops] talk of “accompaniment,” but they forget to say that no [true] accompaniment exists that does not say “STOP” to sin. [The bishops] are afraid, and perhaps they want to please the world.
LSN: In your opinion, why are they afraid?
Lugli: Because they don’t want to lose their relationship with the world. The world now says that homosexuality is normal, and the bishops are afraid to say that it is against nature. A few are afraid … Others, I believe, simply approve of homosexuality.
LSN: Whose idea was the public reparation?
Lugli: It came about a bit casually. While talking together, friends and I wondered what could be done to make up for something so grave that was going to happen for the first time in our city. And so the idea of the Procession with the Committee was born. And after Reggio, we wanted to go pray publicly in Rimini, too.
LSN: What did you think when other Catholics held reparative processions in other Italian cities, like Milan?
Lugli: They made us very happy because it meant that something had stirred. Catholics had stood tall.
LSN: Without your help? That is, without talking to you?
Lugli: Yes, obviously there had been a media impact, and the dimensions of the other processions were smaller, but at least it is a signal. Of course, our Committee supported them all.
LSN: And now? When is the next procession?
Lugli: We don’t know yet. I don’t know if there’ll be something else this summer because Italian “gay pride” usually lasts from June to July. There might be a procession of reparation for the death of Charlie Gard. … We don’t know yet. It’s only an idea. … We are thinking and evaluating.
LSN: Are you surprised that your Committee is famous — well, a little famous — in the USA?
Lugli: This amazes us a little, but we are very happy. Everything for the glory of God!
LSN: That’s enough for now, so thank you.
Lugli: Thank you, too!