Friday, September 12, 2008

A Complex Mix Of Italian Politics, Sex And Religion

Here is a sample of some of the news of the day from Italy. It is an interesting and complex integration of politics, government, sex and religion.

Silvio Berlusconi, who owns Italy's three main commercial television channels and as Prime Minister also wields influence over RAI, the state broadcaster, has often been accused of using his media power to muzzle his critics and satirists.

In the past, Berlusconi has frequently been the target of jokes from Italian comedian Sabrina Guzzanti. Ms. Guzzanti still remains upset about the media's suppression in 2003 of her late night show RAIot in which she satirised the Italian Prime Minister.

Several months ago, Ms. Guzzanti joked that Pope Benedict XVI would go to hell and be tormented by homosexual demons. In Italy, a joke in bad taste about the Pope can also be a crime. Guzzanti is now being prosecuted by the Berlusconi government and if convicted is facing a prison term of five years.

Of course, politics may well be at the heart of this matter since Berlusconi has been trying to win favor with the Vatican and the Catholic vote since returning to power last May. Last weekend he accompanied Pope Benedict to Cagliari in Sardinia and attended mass there.

Meanwhile, Father Antonio Rungi, from Caserta near Naples, has just announced that he is cancelling "Sister Italia 2008" which was due to start on his blog next month. The online beauty pagent contest for young nuns was cancelled due to a flood of abusive emails and he has just taken down his blog.

Also, consider that the controversy of the crucified frog continues to rage. An art museum in northern Italy said that it will continue displaying a sculpture portraying a green frog nailed to a cross that has angered Pope Benedict XVI and local officials.

In August, the pope had written a letter to Franz Pahl, the president of the Trentino-Alto Adige region that includes Bolzano, denouncing the sculpture. It "has offended the religious feelings of many people who consider the cross a symbol of God's love and of our redemption," Pahl quoted the pope as writing in the letter.

The news of the day in Italy. It is certainly a complex mix of politics, government, sex and religion.

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