Opponents mock Monti after Vatican newspaper endorsement

But Italy's top bishop praises PM

Opponents mock Monti after Vatican newspaper endorsement

Rome, December 28 - While opponents on Friday mocked the endorsement by the Vatican daily newspaper of Premier Mario Monti's bid for election, others said they understood the move. Italy's top bishop Angelo Bagnasco said the endorsement built upon the fact that Monti's administration has improved Italy's reputation and standing internationally. "The honesty and ability of Mont has been commonly recognized," said Bagnasco, president of the CEI, the official assembly of Catholic bishops in Italy. However, some church fundamentalists said the newspaper went too far because the technocrat premier could make dangerous alliances if he were elected in February. "(There is) too much silence and too many uncertainties," surrounding who would accompany Monti into government, warned Antonio Mazzocchi, president of the conservative Christian Reformers movement. "As a Christian Reformist, I want to say that (the endorsement) is out of place, not to mention in bad taste". Monti's political allies could include politicians who support gay marriage, warned the group. On Thursday, the Vatican's daily L'Osservatore Romano backed Monti's bid for a second term at the helm of a centrist Catholic coalition. The newspaper said Monti had launched "an appeal to restore the highest and most noble sense of politics which is of the common good". Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party, which is leading in opinion polls, said he found it amusing and surprising that L'Osservatore Romano found Monti had "a strong appreciation of the nobility of politics". Italian media has commented that the daily paper's backing is practically a papal endorsement for Monti and a rejection of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. His relationship with the Vatican was damaged by an alleged affair with the Moroccan-born belly dancer 'Ruby' whom Berlusconi is accused of having paid for sex when she was 17. The Vatican has said it is "troubled" by Berluscsoni's affair, dubbed Rubygate, and L'Osservatore Romano wrote last January that it "caused a dent in Italy's image that will be hard to repair". Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas greeting urged Italian voters to keep high values in mind when making choices. The Vatican continues to hold significant sway in Italian politics. photo: Bagnasco

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