Associated Press, 09/03/2005
Vatican City (AP) – A small group of U.S. gay rights advocates gathered in St. Peter’s Square late last week in memory of an Italian man who burned himself to death to protest the church’s treatment of gays. Alfredo Ormando, a 40-year-old from Palermo, Sicily, set himself on fire in St. Peter’s on Jan. 13, 1998. He died of his injuries 10 days later. In his suicide note, Ormando wrote at length of how he felt rejected by the church and the pain it had caused him. To many, he has become a symbol of what they see as the intolerance of Italian society and the Roman Catholic Church. "We must continue to remind the world that the Roman Catholic Church is so anti-gay," Mel White, founder of U.S. gay rights group Soulforce, said during the tribute in St. Peter’s. "We say: Don’t give one more dollar to the church until their policies are changed," added White, who said his group comes to Rome every year to remember Ormando.