The Times tells us, "Angelino Alfano, the Italian Minister of Justice, [. . .] said he had refused a request by the public prosecutor in Rome for permission to charge the comedienne and satirist Sabina Guzzanti with insulting Pope Benedict XVI."
The story continues:
Ms Guzzanti had said during a left[-]wing rally in Rome in July that because of the Church's stand on homosexuality the Pope would go to Hell, where he would be tormented by "very active poofter devils".
Under the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican, an offence to the pontiff carries the same weight as an offence to the Italian head of state, with a penalty of up to five years in prison. However prosecution requires the go[-]ahead from the Justice Ministry.
So that's one up for free speech, one in the eye for nutty Catholics.
But here's the sting in the tail:
Mr Alfano said he had decided not to proceed with a prosecution "knowing the depth of the Pope's capacity for forgiveness". Speaking at the Catholic University in Milan the minister said that as a Roman Catholic himself he had been "saddened and shamed" by Ms Guzzanti's remarks. However she had accepted full responsibility for them, and he saw "no point in adding further fire to the flames".
So it's nothing to do with the fact that some fossil of a law (a) puts a nutcase in the same category as a head of state and (b) perpetuates the idea that there's something wrong with criticising the head of state in the first place: it's that Ratzo has a "capacity for forgiveness".
Hell, I wouldn't want to be forgiven for insulting the old twat: I'd want him to rage and rant at me and feel the full impact of my satire, and then to be told there would be no prosecution. As it stands, she hasn't been exonerated: she's just been let off getting her wrist slapped for this heinous offence against a religiofascist.