Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

VATICAN-PROTESTER (UPDATED) Oct-4-2012 (610 words) With photos. xxxi

Man protesting government economic policies climbs St. Peter's Dome


Marcello Di Finizio, perched atop a window on the dome of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 2, unfurls a sign objecting to the policies of the Italian government, the European Union and multinational corporations.(CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden and Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A 49-year-old Italian man protesting the economic policies of Italy and Europe scaled a fence on top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 2 and remained perched above a window for 28 hours, even during Pope Benedict XVI's weekly general audience in the square below.

With the help of two Vatican firefighters and the rope he had tied around himself, the protester, Marcello Di Finizio, climbed back up to the public walkway on top of the dome about 8 p.m. local time. He was escorted to a nearby Italian police station for what he told The Associated Press were "formalities."

While many in the crowd of 20,000 people attending Pope Benedict's general audience that morning noticed a banner hanging from the dome, it was impossible to read from the square and almost no one seemed to know a man was up there.

Pope Benedict did not mention Di Finizio during the audience.

Di Finizio, who had scaled the fence on the dome in July as well, runs a beachfront business in northern Italy, renting out umbrellas and lounge chairs. He has been protesting Italy's plan, in compliance with European Union directives, to auction off licenses to operate such businesses on public beaches.

Shortly after the pope's general audience ended, Catholic News Service reached Di Finizio on his cellphone.

Speaking from the dome, he told CNS: "I'm here to ask for help. Our government, our state, doesn't exist. Sectors of the economy, the beach sector, have been paralyzed for years by government policies.

"I ask for political asylum from the Vatican," he said. "The pope is the highest ethical and moral authority in this country, or at least he should be -- let's hope he still is."

Di Finizio, who was wearing an Italian flag around his neck, said he would not come down until government officials and labor union officials met to address the serious economic issues facing Italians who work in the tourism sector.

The protester said he felt forced to take his protest public in a highly visible fashion.

"I want to live; I like living," he said, but "if they want to kill me, let them do it in front of millions of people."

Di Finizio implied he could be willing to jump from the dome. When others are driven to such desperate measures, he said, "these are not suicides, these are homicides."

When a CNS reporter suggested that his message had been heard and he could come down, Di Finizio laughed and said: "In your country, maybe that would work, but we're in Italy. Here they will slap me on the back, kick me in the rear and not listen anymore."

Then Di Finizio made a request, "Please ask the pope to send up an electrical cable so that my phone battery doesn't go dead and I can keep talking to (all of) you."

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Di Finizio obviously was not mentally stable.

Vatican firefighters and police officers remained on the public walkway around the top of St. Peter's dome throughout the night and into Oct. 3 as Di Finizio's protest continued.

Di Finizio had joined a group of tourists going to the top of St. Peter's Basilica at about 5 p.m. Rome time Oct. 2. Security cameras showed him climbing over the 4-foot-high fence, tying a rope around himself and lowering himself down to a large decorative overhang above one of the dome's windows.

He also managed to unfurl and tie down a large banner to the dome that said "Help!" and called for an end to policies that were "butchering society."

END


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250