VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to Marianna Scalfaro for the death of her father, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, former president of the Republic of Italy who died Sunday at the age of 93.
The Holy Father expressed his spiritual closeness during this time of grief, then continued:
“I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences, and to give assurances of my sincere participation in your sorrow, which also affects the entire nation of Italy. It is with great affection and particular gratitude that I recall this Catholic statesman, scrupulous magistrate and faithful servant of the institutions who, in the public offices he held, always strove to promote the common good, and the perennial ethical and religious values of Christianity which characterize the historical and civil traditions of Italy.
“I raise fervent prayers for his soul, invoking divine goodness — by the intercession of the Virgin Mary for whom he had particular veneration — to grant him eternal peace, and I impart upon you and all his relatives the comfort of an apostolic blessing.”
Scalfaro played an important role in Italian politics in the period following World War II. After studying law and becoming a magistrate he was elected to an assembly in 1946 that wrote a new constitution for Italy and following its approval was elected to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, in 1948 for the Christian Democrats. He remained a deputy in parliament until he became president in 1992. He held various ministerial posts.
The period of his presidency, from 1992-99, saw the “Tangentopoli” (bribesville) political scandal that revealed a widespread culture of corruption and bribery. During that time the main political parties disintegrated, including his own, and it was a period of great turmoil. A daily Mass-goer, Scalfaro provided strong moral leadership at a time when the political system that had governed Italy since World War II disintegrated.
“I expressed to him personally my gratitude for the example he gave of public service,” Premier Mario Monti said in remarks published by the Italian agency ANSA. “He was a luminous example of coherence of ideals and moral integrity.”