In the Libertà district of the city, the traditional Christmas Eve mass, celebrated at midnight, has been brought forward by the curia because of a curfew.
It has become too dangerous for families and elderly people, to leave their house in the evening due to the ongoing fighting between the clans of foreigners that populate the district.
“It is useless to hide the fact that there are particular concerns in the district,” explained Don Vincenzo Auciello, the parish priest, in an interview with Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno.
“When there are shots fired and bangs, the elderly people are afraid and families with children perhaps prefer to remain at home and remember the birth of Jesus within the family.”
Don Auciello spoke calmly about his decision, but the choice to bring forward the mass to 6.30 pm has provoked some indignation.
The Libertà district is one of the most populous in the city of Bari, with around 60 000 inhabitants, and it is also one under siege. High rates of crime, gangs, drugs and prostitution are rife. In the evening people are afraid to go out.
Immigrants and some local clans continue fighting each another and the demands of local citizens for more law enforcement have fallen onto deaf ears.
Figures released from Istat show the crime rates across Italy maintain a geographical divide. Crimes against property and thefts are on the up, as well as robberies which have increased since 2014, but in the south crime tends to be more violent.
Italian daily Il Corriere, reported that in terms of robberies, the south of the country is much more afflicted with Naples listing 291 incidents per 100 000 residents, followed by Catania, Milan, Turin and Bari.
Milan, the capital of Lombardy, is the top city when it comes to theft, with around 7 800 complaints per 100 000 residents. It is followed by university city Bologna, Florence, Turin, Catania and Rome.
Lombardy is the region with the highest share of immigrants (13 percent), followed by Campania and Lazio (9 percent each), Veneto and Piedmont, with 8 percent respectively. According to the same source, a total of 60 200 immigrants landed on the Italian coasts between January and May 2017.
The three worst cities for sexual assault were Milan, Bologna and Florence. Prostitution itself is legal in Italy but brothels and pimping are not.