The italians may be like naughty boys, but their bishops know how to deal with them

Two dashing Italian policemen (with dainty little swords)
share an Ipod, in a break from hunting down the Mafia.
I snapped this when in was in Sicily last time.
Interesting how the Italian bishops come out of this synod as holding the line on Christian morality.

There is a sense in which the Italians know so much about sin that they have no illusions about it.

There are about six different kinds of policemen here (perhaps more), all with different, super-stylish, uniforms. There is even a special police force, with guns, for tax evasion. There is no smoke without fire: Italians obviously need an awful lot of policing ...

The Termini railway station is full of beautiful photos of women in revealing underwear. (Even if the women in the streets are less elegant than their Parisian counterparts, I feel.)

But then there are Italian men. La bella figura runs deep here. A good portion of Italian men must lose ten hours out of their working week on looking after their appearance; Rome is full of posters, on every street corner, listing the reasons to oppose gay marriage and adoption (they are the single most common poster in Rome this week), and yet when I went to buy shoe polish today, I noticed they were promoting a special nourishing make-up product for men's pectoral and abdominal muscles. For whose benefit, one wonders? Is this to please their wives?

Me, with a proper Italian bishop.

Married businessmen quite often have a 'little friend'; if, that is, they don't have a mistress, or so I am told. All the men have handbags ... and the policemen just look too swish to actually chase criminals.




Walking back from the Vatican today I saw, for the first time in my life, an amazing machine, lit up like a Christmas tree, with a dozen - yes a dozen - different condom varieties on offer. This was on the Roman equivalent of Oxford street or the Champs Elysés.

Italians are sensual people. Which means the food is great. But the sex can be morally problematic. And they probably only fiddle their tax to pay for better wine and dinners or prettier mistresses. But it also means they have enough experience of the joys and sorrow of the human condition to be good arbiters about what we really ought to be doing.

That's why they have so many policemen, and so many very conservative bishops.

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