He’s a chain smoker, Catholic, homosexual and he’s the man for me. One of the most courageous men I’ve ever heard tell of, he has more than courage – he has soul. He is the Presidente of Sicily, leader of the province, elected because he fights the Mafia and keeps fighting the Mafia. He’s surrounded at all times by bodyguards even when ensconced nightly in his hotel by the sea. In Tusa, his center of operations is a hotel called the Atelier sul Mare. At the entrance to the hotel is a two-story gold column in the shape of the goddess Nike; above the concierge’s window is the motto “devotion to beauty.” Twenty of the hotel’s rooms were decorated by artists or other notables. *
Ivan Scalfarotto, a member of the national parliament says, ‘Having Crocetta in Sicily is like having an openly gay man elected governor in Alabama.’
But even in conservative Catholic Sicily, caglone are caglone or perhaps especially in a place where people live under control by violence, a man may be judged on the content of his character.
In any case, that is not the main reason Crocetta is for me, though his prosecution of the Mafia is blood-curdling. No, it’s this from a profile in the New York Times today:
When I asked about his religious faith, he said: “I like the figure of the Virgin Mary, who bears everything and never judges the incomprehensible and unfathomable acts of God. She just says, ‘Thy will be done.’ Perhaps I identify her with my mother,” he went on. “The older she got, the more I idolized her suffering and linked her to the Virgin. The Mafiosi also use a holy card of the Virgin in their initiation rites. It’s like I want to repossess the Virgin, like I want to steal her back from the mobsters. We’re fighting over the sacred.” *
And it is this knowledge which comes from a life in the world with caglione and angels, which has endeared him to my heart:
‘It is not true that politics has nothing to do with the soul,’ he said. ‘Pope Paul VI said that it is the highest form of charity. But then the Gospel also has the passage that says, ‘I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents.’ ..
…The day before his meeting with the American consul, Crocetta won his greatest political victory so far. After six hours of debate, the Sicilian Regional Assembly voted for the abolition of the Sicilian provincial governments within the year…He was beaming as reporters surrounded him on his way out of the Palazzo dei Normanni. “It’s a great victory,” he said, but soon went off on a tangent, as he so often does: “What was I doing during the debate?” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “Reading poetry on my iPhone.”
The reporters didn’t take him seriously, but that evening, driving back to the hotel in Tusa in the armored car, I asked him if he had been joking. “No, I was very serious,” he said. “Parts of the debate bored me badly, parts of it irritated me because of the aggression. I had to take refuge in poetry.”…
… I asked him what it was.
“The ‘Duino Elegies,’ ” he said, “by Rainer Maria Rilke. I could have quoted every verse in there, especially those beautiful passages about the impossibility of a dream. But it would have been too big a leap, too incomprehensible. In that chamber,” Crocetta said, “they don’t speak the language of love.” *
Who if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic Orders?
And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the start of terror that we are still able to bear,
and we adore it because it calmly disdains to destroy us.
– Rainier Maria Rilke from the First Duino Elegy
* All these starred quotes are from this wonderful article by Marco De Martino