Vatican Adds Pressure to the Berlusconi Sex Scandal
The temperature of the heat surrounding the sex scandal involving Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just got hotter; the church has spoken. The 74-year-old leader is accused of having had sex with a then-17-year-old Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby the Heartbreaker.
Though he did not mention Berlusconi’s name, Pope Benedict XVI said on Friday that public officials must “rediscover their spiritual and moral roots.” However, when the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was asked to comment on the Berlusconi scandal, he said the Vatican was concerned and following the developments “attentively.” Moreover, he said there must be a “more robust morality, a sense of justice and legality," particularly among those in public office.
Berlusconi has denied the accusations. So has Ruby, though she admits he did give her money to help her out. Berlusconi argues that the claims against him are politically motivated. Italian opposition parties have called for his resignation, in light of the accusations, but Bertone’s comments this week were the first from the Vatican specifically addressing the scandal.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA on Friday, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian bishops’ conference, said the scandal would be discussed Monday at a meeting of the conference’s main decision-making body.
Not unlike other politicians of our day, Berlusconi’s alleged conduct is not consistent with the image he would like to portray. He has tried to establish his conservative coalition on a platform consistent with the church’s key positions, including family life and social issues. Upon such a platform, accusations such as have been leveled against him become much more of a stigma than they do for platforms void of such moral claims. It is for this reason that the church’s criticism of his alleged conduct adds to the trouble of his already fragile political existence.