Pope's call to voters of Italy angers left

ROME - The Pope's pre-election appeal to Roman Catholics to help Italy out of its crisis has divided Italians, with some condemning it as political meddling and others praising it as a timely, courageous stand.

'The Polish Pope has never gone this far,' said the left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica in a front-page editorial which criticised his controversial letter to Italian bishops. 'He has told Italians how they have to behave in politics, who to back, who to vote for, which programmes to support . . .' Milan's Il Giorno ran its coverage under the headline 'Catholics of Italy Unite' and illustrated it with Biblical tablets engraved with the Pope's political 10 commandments.

Left-wingers saw the Pope's passionate message as clear support for the Christian Democrats (DC), who are in disarray over corruption scandals. The DC, which dominated Catholic Italy for half a century and stopped Communists from coming to power in elections in 1948 and 1976, is expected to be battered by the former Communist Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) in the next elections. This week, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro is expected to set the date for early parliamentary elections under a new, first-past-the-post system.

In his letter to bishops, the Pope said Italy still needed a massive dose of Christian values in politics. He rejected the notion that Italian Catholics no longer had to remain united in the post-Cold War world.

L'Unita, the PDS newspaper, said there was 'no more room' in modern Italy for notions that Catholics had to gather under one political umbrella. It called the letter a 'pathetic attempt to use the fear of Communism as a bogey man' against the possibility that the left might come to power in Italy.

In controversial passages devoted to post-war history, the Pope said that while some Catholic leaders were corrupt, they had saved Italy from Communism. Italian Catholics, the Pope said, could not be denied 'the great merit of having saved freedom and democracy'.

The far-left Il Manifesto newspaper accused the Pope of sounding an anti-left charge and of throwing his weight behind Mino Martinazzoli, the embattled DC secretary. Mr Martinazzoli is desperately trying to breathe life into the ashes of the party. DC leaders trying to hold the grouping together and party moderates trying to form cross- party alliances that would embrace voters orphaned by the DC's devastating defeat in local polls last month all welcomed the message.

One side saw it as a call for party unity at all costs. Others said it supported a need to bring Catholic values into politics across party lines. 'This message is of fundamental importance because it shows the love the Pope has for our country. It is not only directed at Catholics,' said Roberto Formigoni, an MP who is close to Mr Martinazzoli.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?