.- The Italian bishops' daily newspaper, Avvenire, sharply criticized the recent wave of anti-Church graffiti in Genoa, including death threats against Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, who heads the Italian bishops' conference.
In a front page editorial on Tuesday, the newspaper expressed deep concern over the "spray-paint terrorism" and the social context that would elicit such violence.
"Is it really possible that we live in a country that is so excited and excitable, so hysterical and intolerant?" the daily asked rhetorically.
According to ANSA, the words “Bagnasco Shame on You” were scrawled on the doors of the Genoa Cathedral a week ago, and the words “Death to Bagnasco” appeared on a wall over the weekend. The words were accompanied by symbols of 1970’s leftwing terrorist groups.
Leaflets with pornographic pictures of a bisexual Virgin Mary were found in the cathedral at the end of Saturday's Easter Vigil.
Earlier in the day, posters appeared downtown showing Pope Benedict shaking hands with Hitler or standing in front of a firing squad. Graffiti messages included “Death to the Pope” and “From Hitler's Soldier to God's Soldier” — a reference to Benedict's brief experience in the Hitler Youth movement.
Before Easter, Archbishop Bagnasco, speaking on behalf of the Italian bishops’ conference, expressed a strong stand against a federal bill that would grant legal recognition for cohabiting couples, including same-sex couples.
Italian politicians have expressed solidarity with Archbishop Bagnasco against the violence and have condemned the threats.
The Archdiocese of Genoa has responded with increased security around their archbishop. A police officer has been stationed at the chancery, where the archbishop has his main office. Police patrols around the chancery have also increased.