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Catholic weekly takes another swipe at Berlusconi

Premier 'has split Catholic vote down the middle'

24 August, 15:12
Catholic weekly takes another swipe at Berlusconi (ANSA) - Rome, August 24 - Influential Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana on Tuesday took its second swipe at Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a week, saying he had split the Catholic vote "down the middle".

The magazine, believed to be the most widely read in Italian churches, also accused Berlusconi of character assassination, saying his "method" was: "Anyone who dissents is to be destroyed".

The paper was making a reference to the editor of the Catholic bishops' daily, Dino Boffo, who resigned last year after an expose' about an alleged gay harassment case in Il Giornale, a conservative daily owned by Berlusconi's brother.

Il Giornale has been running a series of front-page stories and editorials slamming House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, who recently broke with Berlusconi, for an allegedly shady real estate deal in Monte Carlo.

Overall, Famiglia Cristiana said, Italy's Catholics were facing a stark choice in any upcoming election since "Berlusconi's entry into politics has resulted in something that no politician in half a century had ever hoped for: to split the Catholic (or rather, Christian Democrat) vote down the middle.

Before the downfall of Italy's political establishment in the early 1990s Clean Hands probes, the Christian Democrat party had dominated postwar politics in a broad tent of left-leaning, centrist and conservative Catholics.

The magazine's blast came a week after it ran an editorial saying Italians were "fed up with duels, insults and showdowns" and called for a national unity government instead of a revamped Berlusconi administration in the event of the premier losing a key confidence vote next month.

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