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Italian cardinal's speech seen as repudiation of Berlusconi

Catholic World News - September 27, 2011

The president of the Italian bishops’ conference has caused a stir with a speech condemning the corruption spreading “like an octopus” in the nation’s political system, and saying that “the air must be purified.”

The strongly worded speech by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco was widely interpreted as a repudiation of the government led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is the focus of several different corruption investigations, involving his financial affairs, his relations with young women, and his conduct in office. Berlusconi—who has often been an ally of the Church on issues involving religious liberty and secularization—was reportedly “stunned” by the vigor of the cardinal’s attack.

However, Church officials noted that Cardinal Bagnasco’s words were not aimed at Berlusconi alone. The St. Egidio community saw the speech as a call for lay Catholics to become involved in Italian politics, to raise the tone of public debate.

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