Italian Priest Burns Photo Of Ex-Pope During Mass

Melissa Stusinski

An Italian priest burned a photo of the former pope during mass in a move that left his parishoners stunned and slightly amazed.

The priest, Father Andrea Maggi, set the photo on fire during a sermon and compared Pope Benedict XVI to the captain of the Costa Concordia, who allegedly left his passengers on the wrecked cruise ship.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, was accused of fleeing his post when he was asked to be the last person off the ship, reports Sky News. Father Andrea asserted that Benedict did the same by "abandoning" the Catholic Church.

While he burned the photograph, the Italian priest explained:

"I'm doing this because he has not been a Pope, he has abandoned us. A shepherd never leaves his flock."
"Before starting the homily, the priest took the photo of the pope and he said this is not a pope, this is not a shepherd, he abandoned his flock."
"I'm not interested in his reasons for leaving. The job of Pope is for life. He should not have left ... The Pope said this was the year of faith and then he leaves his post as head of the church."

Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in 600 years. He explained that he made the decision because he "felt tired." While some in the Catholic Church have understood Benedict's reasons for stepping down, the former pope has angered many Catholics and senior Church chiefs by his actions, because the position is for life.

Do you think the Italian priest who burned a photo of the former pope should be punished?