The Minister of Justice in Italy has decided not to use a Fascist-era law to punish a comedian for mocking the Pope.
Sabina Guzzanti was accused of “offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person” of Pope Benedict XVI.
The satirist and comedian, during a routine at a rally in Rome in July, condemned the Vatican‘s interference in issues such as gay rights.
“Within twenty years the Pope will be where he ought to be, in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils — and very active ones, not passive ones,” she said.
The Rome prosecutor had been given permission to proceed against her under the 1929 Lateran Treaty.
The treaty, between the Vatican and the Italian government, was signed when fascist leader Benito Mussolini was in power.
It stipulated that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President.
Permission to bring a prosecution has to be given by the Ministry of Justice.
“I decided not to authorise it, knowing well the stature and capacity of the Pope for forgiveness,” Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said.
Nobel prize-winning playwright Dario Fo had described the decision to take action against a comedian as “Fascism pure and simple.”
“The Justice Minister’s decision was wise,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Ansa news agency.
“The Pope’s authority is far too superior to be dented (by the comments) and, in his magnanimity, he considers the case closed.”