Italy: Father Corsi
Father Piero Corsi of San Terenzio, La Spezia (YouTube)

Widespread outrage has been sparked by an Italian priest's Christmas message in which he claimed that women triggered men's violence by wearing "filthy clothes" and serving "cold suppers".

Father Piero Corsi put up a leaflet on his church's notice board in the small seaside town of San Terenzio near La Spezia in northwestern Italy, asserting that 118 women killed by men in Italy in 2012 was caused by the victims themselves.

"Is it possible that men have turn crazy all of a sudden? We don't believe so. The point is that more and more women provoke, fall into arrogance, believe [themselves] to be independent and exacerbate tensions," the leaflet read.

"Children are left outside alone, homes are dirty, meals are served cold or are fast-food-like, clothing is filthy," Corsi wrote. "They [women] trigger the worst instincts, leading to violence and sexual abuse. They should do a self-examination and think: did we ask for it?"

A scan of the leaflet was posted online and triggered a wave of outrage. Corsi's Facebook page was flooded with angry comments and was shut down.

Maria Carnieri, head of Telefono Rosa, an NGO fighting violence against women, called for the Pope and Italian Prime Minster Mario Monti to intervene.

La Spezia bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti ordered the leaflet to be removed and distanced himself from Corsi. The priest's words, he said, were "contrary to the church's common feeling on the matter".

But Corsi told Radio Rai: "I don't know if you are a faggot or not but what do you feel when you see a naked woman? Is it not a woman's violence [sic] to unveil herself that way?"

In La Repubblica newspaper he said his words "had been exploited by liar journalists for whom jail wouldn't be an adequate sentence since they deserve the death penalty".

He later issued an apology and said he would quit the priesthood, due to the "pain and regret" he felt for the "controversy caused by his imprudent provocation", but then backtracked and denied both the apology and any intention of resigning.

Paletti suggested that Corsi takes a few days' holiday instead, La Repubblica reported.