Vatican backs Monti ahead of Berlusconi


The Vatican newspaper has praised Mario Monti’s announcement that he might run in February’s general election, signalling that Italy’s technocrat prime minister had replaced Silvio Berlusconi as the church’s preferred politician.

Mr Monti said on Sunday that he was willing to seek a second term if a credible, reform-minded political force backed his agenda ahead of the parliamentary election at the end of February.

Mr Monti said he would “rise” into politics, a thinly veiled dig at four-time prime minister Mr Berlusconi, who has always said he “descended on to the field” of public service in 1994.

The caretaker prime minister’s message was “an appeal to recover the higher and more noble sense of politics that is . . . to take care of the common good,” the Vatican’s Osservatore Romano newspaper wrote.

Italy remains overwhelmingly Catholic and the church has always played a role in domestic politics. During most of the 19 years that Mr Berlusconi led the centre right, he enjoyed the backing of the hierarchy.

The church began distancing itself from the Mr Berlusconi before he resigned, after a sex scandal involving an underage prostitute and details of so- called “bunga-bunga” parties in his Milan villa emerged. – (Guardian service)