By Philip Pullella
VATICANCITY – The F-word made its debut at a papal general audience on Wednesday but there was no alarm and those who were brandishing it were given VIP treatment.
About 30 Italians wearing red T-shirts bearing the words “Fuck Cancer Choir” sat in a front section of Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, within sight of the pontiff, who was sitting about 40 metres away.
Below the phrase on the T-shirts was a clenched first punching through a background of musical notes.
The choir, from the northern Italian province of Alessandria, is led by two doctors, biologist Stefania Crivellari and onocologist Federica Grosso.
“We know what the word means in English but it was chosen by our patients to show that there is a possibility of living with cancer in a human way, all together,” Grosso told Reuters.
She said the group, which has been on Italian television to push for more acceptance of people living with cancer, is preparing a musical based on individual stories of survivors. It will debut this autumn.
They sang at the beginning and the end of the audience and Grosso said they got good seats through the help of a nun from Alessandria who works with the group.
It was not clear if the pope, who was driven past the group, noticed the T-shirts they were wearing.
The Alessandria area has had a higher-than normal rate of mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in the past from a now-closed factory in the town of Casale Monferrato.