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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Junior Reports Developer / Application Support Engineer

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Ashdown Group: BI/ SSRS Developer

£40000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An experienced BI/ ...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Sales Executive

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A highly successful e-commerce ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced marketeer is req...

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