VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is denying accusations that it played a vital role in dealings that led to the resignation of Dino Boffo, the former director of the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire.
Boffo resigned last September in the wake of a tumultuous feud with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The Vatican Secretariat of State, at the request of Benedict XVI, made its first statement on the situation today after allegations reported in the Italian media this month have accused Giovanni Maria Vian, director of L’Osservatore Romano, of leaking a false and defamatory document regarding Boffo to the daily Il Giornale.
Il Giornale, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s family, was at the center of the row that erupted late last summer between the prime minister and the editor after Boffo ran a series of stories in Avvenire that criticized the immigration policies and personal life of Berlusconi.
The prime minister’s personal life has been brought into question in the Italian media since he began the proceedings to divorce his wife, and begin a relationship with an 18-year-old aspiring model.
Il Giornale retaliated by publishing an article Aug. 28 on Boffo’s private life that included allegations dating back to 2004 that he was a homosexual.
The Il Giornale article openly admitted that the article was a response to Boffo’s criticisms of Berlusconi’s private life, and called Boffo a hypocrite.
Despite repeatedly insisting on his innocence, Boffo resigned Sept. 3. He said at the time that the Church “has better things to do than strenuously defend one person, even if unfairly targeted.”
He also said he believes the attacks against his person are due to the fact that Avvenire is a voice that is independent of “secular power.”
The Vatican was drawn into the feud when Vian didn’t speak out at the time on behalf of Boffo. The silence was interpreted as constituting a point of contention between the Vatican newspaper and that of the Italian bishops’ conference.
Figure of the Church
An article in January then brought the dispute to the forefront of the media again when it was reported by the editor of Il Giornale, Vittorio Feltri, that the document that proved the aforementioned accusations was received from a “figure of the Church of which one must trust institutionally.”
This affirmation led numerous newspapers to assert that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, or Vian were the ones who leaked the document.
Feltri himself denied these interpretations, but the media continued to speculate.
The Holy See issued a categorical denial today, stating that the allegations have “no basis whatsoever in fact.”
“It is false,” the statement says, “that […] the editor of L’Osservatore Romano passed on the documents which lay behind the resignation of the editor of Avvenire on Sept. 3 last year.”
The communiqué continued: “It seems clear from the proliferation of the most incredible assertions and hypotheses — repeated by the media with truly remarkable consonance — that everything rests on unfounded convictions, with the intention of gratuitously and calumniously attributing to the editor of L’Osservatore Romano an unmotivated, unreasonable and malicious action.”
“The Holy Father Benedict XVI,” the note added, “who has been kept constantly informed, deplores these unjust and injurious attacks, renews his complete faith in his collaborators, and prays that those who truly have the good of the Church to heart may work with all means to ensure that truth and justice triumph.”
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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-28308?l=english