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Pope phones Italian bishops’ leader; Vatican newspaper editor chides bishops’ paper

Catholic World News - September 02, 2009

Pope Benedict has telephoned the president of the Italian bishops’ conference to express his “esteem, gratitude, and appreciation” for the work of the conference and its president, according to a conference press release. The call to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa came amid press reports of a division between the Holy See and the Italian bishops over the Church’s reaction to allegations of scandalous behavior surrounding Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The telephone call also came after Gian Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, chided the Italian bishops’ newspaper for taking an “imprudent and exaggerated” editorial line on immigration. Avennire had compared Italy’s reaction to apparently shipwrecked Eritrean refugees to European reaction to Jews before the Holocaust. The Spanish government, Vian pointed out, takes a harder line against immigration than Italy does.

Vian, who emphasized that relations between the Holy See and the Italian government are good, added that the recent cancellation of a dinner between Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Prime Minister Berlusconi was undertaken by both parties as a matter of “institutional responsibility” so as to avoid fostering media controversies.

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