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In Italy, as in US, bishops rip government leader, while Vatican remains calm

September 01, 2009

Avvenire, the daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishops' conference, has been sharply critical of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, both on issues of policy (notably immigration) and on questions of personal conduct (his flirtation with young girls). Now Il Giornale, a newspaper that Berlusconi owns, has returned fire, charging that the editor of Avvenire has his own history of sexual transgressions-- a charge that the president of the Italian bishops' conference condemned as a "disgusting" smear.

While the Italian bishops are battling quite openly with Berlusconi, the Vatican has taken a more measured, diplomatic approach. Two prominent Vatican-watchers-- Sandro Magister of L'Espresso and John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter-- note that the situation in Italy can be compared with that in the US. In both cases, some bishops have launched frontal assaults on the government leadership, while the Vatican has been more conciliatory.


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