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14 Jan, 2019 10:40

‘Enemy of the poor’: Catholic Church slams Rome’s mayor over Trevi fountain coins

‘Enemy of the poor’: Catholic Church slams Rome’s mayor over Trevi fountain coins

It’s one of Rome’s most romantic landmarks and those who throw their spare change into its waters are destined to return to the Eternal City. Now, the Trevi fountain is at the center of a heated row over who gets to keep the cash.

Since 2001, the €1.5 million scooped out of the iconic 18th century Baroque fountain annually, about €4,000 per day, has been donated to Caritas, a Catholic charity which helps the city’s homeless as well as its poorest families.

That’s all set to end as of April 1, after a vote by Rome City Council in December deemed that the money would be better spent on improving the city’s infrastructure and cultural sites.

The charge has been led by Rome’s first female mayor, Virginia Raggi, elected in 2016 as part of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

However, the Catholic Church has hit back, accusing Raggi’s administration of hurting the city’s poorest.

The attack was published in Saturday’s edition of Avvenire. In a front-page article headlined “Money taken from the poorest,” the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference went on to slam Raggi and the council as the “enemy of the poor.”

Expressing his shock at the outcome, Caritas’ director, Father Benoni Ambarus, told the paper that he hoped the outcome wasn’t final.

Condemnation has also come from the Five Star Movement’s political opponents who have labelled the Trevi fountain row an “absolute disgrace.” Luciano Nobili of the Democratic Party (PD) tweeted that Raggi’s party wanted to abolish poverty but instead “tread on the needy” and punished those who tried to help them.

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Many Italians tweeted their support for Caritas, but others questioned why the Catholic Church was entitled to the donations.

“Those pennies are for everyone and for a secular state it is not a beautiful image to give that money to a religious organization,” one user wrote.

Commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1732, the tradition of throwing coins in the fountain began after the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain, with the title song performed by crooner Frank Sinatra.

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