Italian priest bans 'chaotic' funeral processions

Galliate Image copyright Wikimedia/Alessandro Vecchi
Image caption Funerals in Galliate will be a less social affair in future

An Italian priest has stopped a centuries-old tradition of funeral processions through the town because mourners paying their condolences at the end of the ceremony are "causing chaos", it's reported.

In a letter to parishioners in Galliate, in the northern Piedmont region, Father Ernesto Bozzini said the decision was taken because so few people were praying during the procession, and were clogging up the local roads, La Stampa newspaper reports. Instead, a final blessing will now take place at the church, rather than after a procession to the cemetery, the paper says. The graves will then be blessed during two annual masses in June and November.

But while some locals see the traditional processions as a thing of the past, others aren't happy about the changes, especially the suggestion that they're showing a lack of reverence. "People chatter in church as well, but they aren't abolishing mass," says Mauro Gritti at the grocery store. "Accompanying the deceased to the cemetery isn't just a custom, it's a form of respect."

Pharmacist Alberto Mantellino says he understands life is more hectic nowadays, but that Italy will "really lose something" if it abandons such traditions. "We are in a hurry, we get fed up if while we are driving we have to wait 15 minutes because the funeral procession is passing," he tells the paper. "At one time we used to turn off our engines as a sign of respect."

Next story: Row over Ukrainian city's new name

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.