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
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
i100
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

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor