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Italian bishops' leader rebukes Berlusconi, chides critics

January 24, 2011

The president of the Italian bishops’ conference has joined in the criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is under investigation for prostitution. But he has has also remarked that Berlusconi’s critics should be wary of the “pitfalls of hypocrisy.”

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa was unsparing in his criticism of the prime minister. "Whoever accepts a public position must understand the sobriety, personal discipline, sense of measure and honor that come with it," he said. Although the cardinal did not mention Berlusconi by name, officials of the Italian bishops’ conference had told reporters that the cardinal would be addressing the scandal surrounding the Italian government leader.

While condemning “conduct that offends public decorum,” the cardinal also called into question the “massive” expenditure of time and energy devoted by political by Berlusconi’s critics to investigating the premier’s relations with women. The country has been pushed “from one extreme to another,” he said, damaging Italy’s public image. Cardinal Bagnasco made his remarks at Ancona, in an address to the administrative council of the Italian bishops’ conference.


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