Italian Catholic and Jewish leaders denounce Nazi flag used at church funerals

Rome’s Catholic archdiocese claimed in a statement that priests of St. Lucy parish in central Rome, including one who presided at Monday’s funeral rite had no idea what was going to happen outside.

Images on the internet showed the flag-covered coffin that contained the body of Alessia Augustello, an ex-member of the right-wing extremist group Forza Nuova.

According to the diocese, the flag was a “horrible symbol that cannot be reconciled” with Christianity. It also stated that the incident was an example of “ideological exploit” of religious services.

According to police, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

The Jewish community of Rome was outraged that such events could still occur seven decades after the end World War II and the fall Italy’s fascist dictatorship.

According to the statement, “It is unacceptable that an flag with a Swastika can still being shown in public in today and age especially in a town that saw the deportation its Jews by Nazis and their fascist accomplices.”

More than 1,000 Jews from the capital were deported after a raid on Rome’s Jewish neighborhood on October 16, 1943. Most of them were sent to Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland. Only 16 people returned.

According to the Jewish community, Tuesday’s funeral incident was “even more shocking” because it occurred in front of a Church.

Similar incidents occurred outside another Rome church last March.