He made the comments on radio on the day central Italy was hit by a 6.6 quake, its worst in 36 years. It was the third major quake in the same region in just over two months. Radio Maria where the priest made outrageous claim has hurriedly distanced itself from his comments and the Vatican has hit out at the views, saying the idea of a vengeful God was 'a pagan vision' dating from 'the pre-Christian era'.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, number two in the Vatican's powerful Secretariat of State, said Cavalcoli's comments were 'offensive to believers and disgraceful for non-believers', he also asked the forgiveness of quake victims and told them they had the 'solidarity and support' of Pope Francis.
The offending priest has however stuck to his guns.
Legislation in Italy allowing gay civil partnerships was brought in last month, making it the last country in Western Europe to legally recognise same-sex relationships.