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Vatican Slights Berlusconi Over Newspaper Attack | The Wall Street Journal
Prime Minister Misses Out on Annual 'Pardoning of Sins' Service as Holy See Withdraws Its Dinner Invitation

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi received a rare public snub from the Vatican after a newspaper owned by his brother criticized an influential Roman Catholic newspaper editor for questioning the premier's private life.

Mr. Berlusconi had planned to attend a religious service and dine with the Vatican's No. 2 official when the Holy See issued a statement Friday afternoon withdrawing the dinner invitation. The statement also said that Mr. Berlusconi, whose personal life has been under scrutiny for months, wouldn't attend the service, known as the "Perdonanza," or the annual day of pardon for sins.

A senior Vatican official said the snub came in response to a report published Friday in Il Giornale, a national newspaper owned by Mr. Berluconi's brother Paolo. "It was a very strong attack," the Vatican official said. <...>

Mr. Berlusconi's plans to attend the Perdonanza was seen by the Italian public as a gesture in the direction of atonement.

In its statement, the Vatican said Mr. Berlusconi's dinner plans with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who officiated Friday's service, was called off partly out of concern that the meeting could be "exploited." The Vatican official said the Holy See didn't want to be viewed as giving a "benediction" to Mr. Berlusconi's political positions and his personal life.

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 12:24:55 PM EST
I found this article noteworthy as it departs from WSJ's previous attitude of "straight reporting" without getting into the story.

Of course events in Italy are moving fast. The Vatican has adopted a harsher position day by day. The document concerning the accusations against Boffo has turned out to be false- all of this is the subject of my next diary which I am completing in light of on-going events.

I strongly recommend James Walston's article in today's Times. Walston is a professor at the American University in Rome and knows his subject well.


Since returning to power last year, Mr Berlusconi has given himself immunity from criminal prosecution while in office and countered President Napolitano's powers to check the constitutionality of Bills. The institutional opposition, like the courts and President, have been trussed like oven-ready capons and most of the media is directly or indirectly controlled by the Prime Minister. If anyone dares to squeak, they are threatened directly.

His foreign policy claims move between the comical and the megalomaniacal. His impatience and sense of omnipotence in business carried over to his political life, which now allows him to ignore reality and to create his own.

Today, though, he acts like a man out of control. Even though he is one of the richest men and among the world's political leaders, he seems disappointed and frustrated. No amount of wealth can make him young or handsome, force the Vatican to accept him, give him the influence of Mr Brown, Mr Sarkozy or Ms Merkel, or even bestow on him the status of established wealth like the Agnellis. So he overreacts against any criticism.

But the gap between his reality and everyone else's is widening. Various medications may take their toll and his happy smirk can no longer hide the anger that boils to the surface when he is crossed.

The minors and the prostitutes have cracked the image but, if he falls, it will be because no amount of spin can disguise his economic mismanagement. The unemployment and hardship that Italians are likely to face this autumn, for which he is largely responsible, will be the reality check that counts.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 12:46:48 PM EST
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