London, May 8 : The Roman Catholic Church has objected to an upcoming nudist beach festival in Sicily - billed as a 'celebration of nudity' - over fears of an invasion of naked sunbathers.
Cosimo Piro, mayor of Cattolica Eraclea - the village nearest to the planned festival on Capo Bianco - recently issued a decree allowing 'free use of Capo Bianco by lovers of nude sunbathing'.
However, the church claimed that the festival, which is due to take place between May 23 and May 25, would be an illegal use of the beach for nude sunbathing.
Some have even argued that the mayor's regulation is not legally binding.
"The beach belongs to the state, not to the local council. If the state decided to allow people to take their clothes off, there is not much I could do about it. But as far as I am aware no such authorisation has been issued," The Telegraph quoted father Giuseppe Miliziano, the parish priest, as saying.
Italian law forbids nude sunbathing, but exceptions are made for beaches where local councils approve the practice and the areas are overseen by naturist associations.
The Capo Bianco festival is organised by the Italian Naturist Federation, based in Turin, and the Sicilian Naturist Association.