Pope warns Church to resist temptations of power after moves to canonise Don Luigi Giussani

 

Milan

Pope Benedict XVI has warned the Catholic Church to resist temptations of power, even as it emerged that ecclesiastical figures in Milan had moved to canonise Don Luigi Giussani, the founder of the Vatican’s controversial political campaigning wing.

The Pontiff told his weekly audience on Ash Wednesday this week that the Church was faced with temptations of power just as Jesus was in the desert. “Jesus found himself exposed to danger and faced with the temptation of the evil one who offered him a Messianism far afield from God’s plan, through success and power and dominion,” he said, adding that the same was faced "by the Church and us believers”.

But critics swiftly contrasted Pope Benedict’s warning with news that moves were now underway in Milan to make a saint of Don Giussani, whose teachings gave rise to Communion and Liberation, the Catholic, anti-Marxist political group, which consistently supported former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The ultra-conservative, lay organisation has other important supporters in Italy’s richest area, Milan/Lombardy, including the regional president Roberto Formigoni. Its political influence allows the pursuit of a right-wing social agenda on topics including stem cell research and assisted dying.

Moderate catholic groups have opposed its aims and methods. But Pope John Paul II backed the organisation’s political campaigning. And its current, central position in Italian society was underlined last year when a key Communion and Liberation figure, Cardinal Angelo Scola, became the Archbishop of Milan.

As archbishop, Cardinal Scola, who had been a close friend of Don Giussani until his death in 2005 aged 82, received the official Communion and Liberation request to begin the beatification and canonisation processes.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise: the Vatican has always been about power,” said James Walston, a politics professor at the American University in Rome. “But if Don Giussani’s the sort of person they’re going to be canonising, then Heaven help us.”

Another prominent Church figure - the Milan priest, tycoon and hospital director Don Luigi Verzè, who died last year - was accused of being too close to the rich and powerful as result of close friendships with Silvio Berlusconi and disgraced former Italian prime minister Bettino Craxi.

He left a €1.5 billion black hole in the accounts of Milan’s San Raffaele teaching hospital and faced allegations of fraud.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas