A parish priest in the Venice area has refused a donation for the poor which the benefactor wrote should be given to needy people who have ''always been Italian'' and ''lastly to foreigners." In a message published in the parish bulletin, Father Cicutto told the unidentified donor that he needed to ''seriously question his way of being Christian." The priest also told him he could "come and get his money back."
Cicutto is the parish priest of the Church of San Nicolò e San Marco in Mira, a town near Venice on the Riviera del Brenta. He spoke about the episode as a warning to his community not to 'ruin'' their faith with ''slogans'' that have nothing to do with the Catholic community.
The episode reported in the parish bulletin
Every week the parish bulletin in Mira publishes a column called 'Father Gino's notes' in which the priest reflects on current events in the Church and in society. His last column was called ''Real charity'' and spoke about the incident.
''A few days ago I found in the box of (Catholic charity) Caritas an envelope with an offer for the poor," he wrote. However, the message on the envelope left him feeling ''embittered and humiliated," he continued. The message read: ''For the elderly, the sick, in the cold or reduced to hunger, those who have always been Italian first! Foreigners last!''.
The priest wrote in his article that the message's ''words echo slogans that we are used to hear but they have nothing to do with faith and Christian life, which considers the poorest as the first, regardless of their skin color and provenance."
'That person needs to question his Christianity'
The priest said that the donor's words are a reflection of what ''we hear or read on a daily basis'' that ''have the strength of impacting our conscience and ruin the Christian heritage which the Gospel continues to donate to us and the Church never tires to propose with joy and force''.
He then warned the anonymous donor: "The person who wrote these words should seriously question his way of being Christian and, if he doesn't agree with what constitutes real charity, he can come to the rectory and take his money back."