Catania, Italy – Mother prepared everything for baptism. She adorned her infant son Antonio in a hand-made satin suit with a tail and a plain cream-colored top hat glittering. She hired photographers and bought the baby a gold cross. He booked a large buffet lunch for the whole dynasty in Copacabana.
But in the Sicilian city of Catania the parish priest was going through normal worship, urging the family to leave the devil and sprinkling holy water on the child’s head, a major part of the ceremony was missing.
Godfather was not.
“It’s not right,” said Agata Perry, 68, the younger Antonio’s grandmother. “I certainly didn’t make that decision.”
The church did. On that weekend in October, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Catania imposed a three-year ban on baptism and the ancient tradition of naming Godparents in Christian times. Church officials argue that the once essential personality of a child’s Catholic education has lost all spiritual significance. Instead, they say, it has become a networking opportunity for families looking to improve their fortunes, secure endowments of gold necklaces and create convenient connections, sometimes with local electricity brokers who have dozens of godchilds.
Church officials say God fell to earth as a secular ritual between God’s guardians, relatives or neighbors – living in many faiths or sins – and now it’s an easy way to strengthen family ties.
And sometimes mob bonding, too.
Italian prosecutors have tracked baptisms to figure out how underworld authorities influence them, and crowded widows in court have saved their most toxic entities who betray the bond of “true justice” baptism. This is a violation, which is best associated with, “The Godfather”, especially the baptismal scene when Michael Corleone leaves the devil in the church because his cock hits all his enemies.
But church officials warn that more secularism than anything else drives out their godparents, a Sicilian thing that has been going on for 2,000 years, or at least since the first day of the church daisy, when sponsors known to bishops promised converts to prevent pagan infiltration.
“It’s an experiment,” Msgr said. General Salvatore Genchi, the vicar of Catania, since he kept a copy of the ban in his office behind the city’s basilica. One of the at least 15 godfathers, the great man said he was qualified enough for the role, but he estimated that one percent of the dioceses were not godparents.
The break would give the church a chance to be sent to a Catholic school for a while, but Mansingh Genchi was not optimistic that it would stick. “It seems very difficult to me,” he said, “anyone can go back.”
In 2014, Archbishop Giuseppe Fioriini Morosini of Reggio Calabria, where the Nadrangheta people have roots, proposed a 10-year ban on godfathers, arguing in a letter to Pope Francis that a secular society had spiritually destroyed the image. He said it also made it suitable for the exploitation of militants.
Archbishop Morosini said Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Bechiu, a top Vatican official who is now on trial for money laundering at the Vatican, replied that all Calabrian bishops needed to agree before moving forward. They don’t.
But Archbishop Morosini said he was bringing the issue to Francis, who “showed himself very attentive” and told him at a meeting in May, “Whenever I see you, I remember the problem of the Godfather.” ‘
Rev. Angelo Alfio Mangano, St. Maria of Catania’s Ogina Church, welcomed the ban, especially since it rested him from a spiritually questionable character using “threats against the parish priest” to pressure him and others to name him Godfather.
Sometimes, he said, the position was used for social blackmail and usury, but for the most part it became a way to enforce the culture of religious kinship in Sicily.
“It builds a strong bond between families,” said Nino Sikali, 68, as he went to cut a swordfish with Mack at the Catania fish market. When he was made godfather, he said, he retaliated by making Godson’s father a “comparison” or co-father with his own children. Over the years, Mr. Sikali said he was compelled to help compare his struggles financially. “He died because of my 12,000 euros,” he said.
Some families looked for godfathers who opened the door.
Former Sicilian President Salvatore Caffaro said he did not have many baptized Godchildren, “only 20,” Only 5 percent agreed to the request. He said he was searched for his “Christian principles”, which had been displayed in political life for decades.
He said, “Despite what some priests think, I have paid attention to all my baptismal Godchildren” and instructed them to go to Catholic school.
Mr Kiss Kafaro, whose name was “Kiss Kiss” for his tendency to kiss everyone, was jailed for nearly five years for helping to warn the mafia boss. He denied the allegations and said any mafioso has ever acted as a godfather to anyone on the island.
“At least in Sicily, where I used to live, it doesn’t exist,” he said. “It’s just a religious bond; There is no bond of illegality. ”
He was worried that the church would “throw the baby out with the bath water” after he was released from prison.
Parents were baptizing their children in churches across Catania on the first Sunday of the ban because of the loss of a favorite tradition.
“It’s amazing,” said Jalisa Testa, 21, who celebrated her son’s baptism at the Catania Basilica while her husband surrendered to a crowd of women waving white napkins. “We know in our hearts, and they will know, he has a Godfather.”
Marco Calderon took his month-old son Giuseppe, reading a newspaper clipping on the wall of St. Maria’s in Ogina Church, “Baptism and Christianity: Stop at Godfathers and Godmothers.”
“For them, it could be extinct,” Mr. Calderon said. “Not for us.”
Later, the family posed on the steps of the church, and the family photographer (the photographer said, “Do you see the necklace around that child’s neck?”) Called the godfather to join.
“Salvo,” Mr. Calderon shouted, gesturing to the official godfather to join them.
Even that family had the special privilege of receiving the Godfather because a death in the family was disturbed by the rules for delaying their pre-arranged baptism.
“I don’t understand why the church is doing this,” said Evan Arena, 29, who may be Catania’s last godfather, after the baptism of his nephew, who wore a three-piece powder blue suit and white capola hat. “I remember old traditions.”
After that ceremony, the priest returned to the family across the central nave. The women sparkled in sequins and the men wore monk mallets – short at the front, long at the back, shaved around the ears. They did not get any such allowance.
Proud father Nicola Sparty (224) said, “What a difference it makes,” who described his profession as “a little of it, a little of it.” (“A motorbike escaped from the carabinieri,” read a recent newspaper article about him.) “One day the godfather is there and the next day he is gone. But a father forever.”
Mr. Sparti and his wife then go to the nearby town of AC Treza to do a photoshoot in front of three royal sea rocks, which, according to legend, Cyclops rescued fleeing Odysseus. They put Antonio in a tiny, remote-controlled white Mercedes and rejoiced while cruising in port.
Above them, the city’s vicar General Rev. His group swore to the Godfathers that they were believers and not members of the Mafia. Unlike Catania, he said, his diocese took the middle road, allowing godparents, but they didn’t need to.
Now people are flocking to the Catania border for baptism.
“They keep coming here so they can have godfathers,” he said.
The Sparty family, though, played by the rules and only came for lunch. They go to nearby Copacabana, where they celebrate with pasta pasta, cakes, gifts and plates of piles of generations of parents and godparents.
Alfio Motta, 22, Antonio’s uncle, saw it all from the DJ console, wondering what could happen.
“I consider myself a godfather,” he said. “Even if I don’t have a title.”