Italian priest sparks outrage over blame of women for violence

ROME Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:26am EST

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ROME (Reuters) - An Italian priest has provoked outrage after putting up an article that said women were partly to blame for encouraging domestic violence by failing to clean their houses and cook properly and for wearing tight and provocative clothing.

Italian media reported that parish priest Piero Corsi fixed a text to the bulletin board of his church in the northern village of San Terenzo di Lerici, which said women should engage in "healthy self criticism" over the issue of femicide, or men murdering women.

Domestic violence against women is a serious problem in Italy although a report by a United Nations mission in June said it was "largely invisible and underreported".

The text, posted on a website by a conservative Catholic named Bruno Volpe, attacked pornography and erotic television advertising but said women shared the blame for "provoking the worst instincts, which then turn into violence and sexual abuse".

"Let's ask ourselves. Is it possible that men have all gone mad at one stroke? We don't think so," said the text, which was reproduced in several newspapers.

"The core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions," it said.

"How often do we see girls and even mature women walking on the streets in provocative and tight clothing?"

"Babies left to themselves, dirty houses, cold meals and fast food at home, soiled clothes. So if a family ends up in a mess and turns into crime (a form of violence which should be condemned and punished firmly) often the responsibility is shared," it said.

The mayor of Lerici, Marco Caluri, said on Thursday the article was "astonishing and deeply offensive" and the bishop of La Spezia ordered it to be taken down, saying it contained "unacceptable opinions which are against the common position of the church".

A third of women in Italy had reported being victim of serious domestic violence, a UN report citing data from Italian statistics agency ISTAT said.

It said that as many as 127 women had been murdered by men in 2010, often as a result of "honor, men's unemployment and jealousy by the perpetrator".

Maria Gabriella Carnieri Moscatelli, the head of Telefono Rosa, an association that helps the victims of violence, said an apology subsequently offered by Corsi was not sufficient.

"I thank the bishop who had the paper taken down but I'm still not satisfied because I think someone needs to talk to this person and understand why he has these attitudes," she told SkyTG24 television.

"I think he needs to make a deeper examination of his conscience that goes beyond apologies," she said.

Corsi denied reports that he intended to resign as priest and in an interview published on the web site of the weekly Oggi, he said he would be carrying on with his work.

"After everything that's happened, which has certainly been well beyond what I intended or expected, I think there's need for calm, rest and silence to respond with the serenity and harmony required to carry on," he said.

(Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by Roger Atwood)

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Comments (4)
DeanTaylor wrote:
on victimhood…

It remains a sobering truth that ‘victim’ will never translate into ‘innocent’, no longer ‘responsible’ (not in the sense of ‘blameworthy’, but, rather, in the sense of being…fully ‘engaged’ with one’s social milieu) no longer involved, etc. We never become ‘free’ of being ‘responsible’. We never cease being full participants, agents and actors in the unfolding of our environment–both in the immediate and global meanings.

We may, however, revise how we will respond as adult agents–this remains a highly viable, even consoling, option. But claiming a non-identity, non-participant, ‘neutral’ status–i.e., withdrawing–is never a choice we may adopt. In that sense we may never lay claim to a ‘this-has-nothing-to-do-with-me’ worldview because of a grievance, wound, etc., and believe we may no longer respond.

Our informed response–from each and every one of us–is a precept of life itself, and, we are charged with its issue. It is our mandate, and it is not altered or obviated via victimhood…

Sartre: l’homme est condamné à être libre.

We are involved, we are not existential ‘neuters’…

We will choose, and we will respond…

Dec 27, 2012 1:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Yowser wrote:
This gentleman, who presumably is celibate and does not have a wife or children, seems insufficiently experienced to assign blame for these matters.

Dec 28, 2012 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Misogyny means “hatred of women”. While Father Corsi’s comments are not exactly hateful, it does demonstrate his ignorance of domestic issues. It should not surprise anyone that Father Corsi is Italian and a priest who thinks this way. He is among his peers in Italy, and, that is part of the problem.

I am Italian-American (both my mother’s parents came from Italy) and I learned at an early age that a double standard is part of the culture of growing up Italian, even if you live in the US. The effect this dynamic has had on the Italian population in Italy is a declining birth rate and marriage rate. Women are fed up with being the chefs, laundry service, child care giver, older family members care givers, and cleaning service, and being stuck with a spouse who can abuse them because they have no where else to go. So why bother marrying a man when that is exactly what would be expected of her?

No one in Italy expects a priest to be a force for change in what the roles of men and women are in their society. Women are powerless when they are not hired for jobs because they are women (common practice in Italy) leaving them with little leverage in any relationship. Violence against women is universal. One of the reasons it remains so is the ambivalent attitudes of men like Father Corsi. As long as men like Father Corsi are willing to make excuses for violent behavior of any kind, nothing will change.

Dec 30, 2012 7:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
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