The Italianist

Things That Happen in Italy

Posts Tagged ‘scandal

No worries, you’re just a pedophile

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The Vatican is always in the first row in the fight against the evil. We see it everyday, with the never-ending effort of its ministers and leaders to spread the word of the Lord and defend it against the vices lurking in contemporary society. The media are also employed to make sure that the good words reach the delicate ears of the faithful. Not accidentally is the Vatican in the heart of Italy, a country where its missionary aims do find a very fertile soil.

Like all the heroes fighting for justice, however, the Vatican too has had too face obstacles and criticisms in the face of recent scandals. One of those who strenuously rejected the allegations against the Church is bishop Giacomo Babini.

This is Don Giacomo:

In April 2010, he stood up to defend the Pope against the various accusations moved against him. Recognizing the gravity of the alleged scandal, Don Giacomo decided to speak up and to warn the public that a scary plot was in action to undermine the Vatican’s image. Giacomo’s shocking revelation about the plot can be found here.

Not only is Giacomo a bishop, he is also an emeritus bishop. When one is an emeritus bishop, whatever that means, it must also mean that he has to do more than a normal bishop. So Giacomo felt compelled to say more about the scandals in which the Vatican seems to be involved, particularly in connection to pedophilia, a long lasting element of the Vatican’s missionary practice. Don Giacomo has been interviewed a few days ago on a catholic blog (I do not mention the blog itself, but you can find a report about that interview on this more hit-deserving website). On that occasion, he was asked to explain his thoughts on the concept of homosexual priests.

Here is Giacomo’s telling answer (my catholic translation): “I already said, many times, that I consider homosexuality a real perversion against nature. Now, if these things [namely, being homosexual] are committed in such an obscene way by priests, then it would be the case that, as it once used to be done, we should send these priests to life jail. (…) Homosexuality in a priest, if translated into a depraved practice, is even worse than pedophilia. (…) As a priest, I would be more sympathetic with a paedophile who repents, and suffers for his condition, than with these vicious beings. I tell you more, if I had met a paedophile priest, I would not have denounced him, I would have tried to redeem him. A father, such as a bishop is for the priests, does not denounce his sons who do wrong and repent. However, with the vicious ones we must be intransigent.” Catholically added emphasis.

Sorry kids, we need to redeem these guys. Now shut up and go back into that dark corner, until we come and get you again.” They must have removed this last bit from the interview..

A comment on the Vatican, from a world-wide famous, and recently deceased, Professor of the London School of Economics, can be found here.


Written by TheItalianist

07/08/2010 at 12:29

A Diamond is Forever

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Unexpectedly, a story of bribery populates today’s Italian news. The stage of this story is Abruzzo, the mountainous region of central Italy, and particularly L’Aquila, the city that was struck, almost 16 months ago, by a terrible earthquake that killed 320 people.

A series of polemics followed that dramatic event. First, local authorities were fiercely criticised for ignoring alarming signs in the days preceding the earthquake. Second, it emerged that many buildings that collapsed during the seism had been built with poor materials. Later, a series of scandals involving the Civic Protection Department revealed a dark world behind the “rebuilding” of L’Aquila.

The series of scandals continues uninterrupted. This time, it centres around Daniela Stati, the councillor for Civic Protection in Abruzzo. This is Stati:

Actually, she is now the ex councillor, for she resigned today in connection with this story. It is alleged that Stati received, and yielded to, many external “pressures” aiming at convincing her to assign funds for the reconstruction works in L’Aquila to one particular contractor, Abruzzo Engineering. According to the allegations, the latter was offered the contract in spite of the fact they hadn’t even presented a complete project. In fact, the group was preferred to Consorzio ReLuis, a group led by a private university from Rome, which had offered to do the work without receiving funding from the Abruzzo Government.

Details are still emerging around this -slightly uncommon- story: among them, there is a €15,000 (12,500 GBP) diamond ring that Vincenzo Angeloni, representative of Abruzzo Engineering, ‘gifted’ Daniela Stati on 15th December 2009, the same day in which the building group was eventually offered the contract. Wiretaps show a series of friendly exchanges between Ms. Stati, Mr. Angeloni, and Mr. Ezio Stati: the latter is the father of Daniela, himself an ex politician who had to resign in 2000 for being found guilty of bribery. A family business, so to speak. During another of these wiretaps, Angeloni phones Ezio Stati, whom he greets as “the councillor’s father”, informing him of his intention to buy a TV, “a very big one!”, as a present for old good Ezio. The latter happily abides, like “The Dude”, commenting that he is “waiting at home as a parrot”. (Not clear why he says so.. Must be politics jargon).

(Damien Hirst’s work)

The story is still to fully unfold. However, Daniela Stati appeared today on  Italian TV SKY, to give a statement rejecting the groundless allegations, and appealed directly to the Italian PM, saying “Mr. Berlusconi, I am another national scandal!” – with reference to Silvio’s idea that the fact that, once a week, a person of his crew is found involved in dirty stuff is the fruit of mere communist propaganda.

Then, Daniela Stati emphatically claimed: “My only fault is that I tried to defend the rights of the workers of [Abruzzo Engineering], I tried to offer a job to this society!”

A very reassuring explanation. To hell the accusation of bribery, and greed over the tragedy of the people from L’Aquila. This was just the attempt of a committed woman to foster workers’ rights.

Damn you, communist propaganda.

Written by TheItalianist

04/08/2010 at 17:49

The Ideal Visit

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In September this year, the Pope Benedict XVI will pay an official visit to UK. Everyone is waiting for this event with trepidation: both intellectuals and normal citizens discuss what should be done to give Ratzinger the best welcome. The Vatican itself does not hide its excitement about the visit.

Unfortunately, today things got a bit shaky. Courtesy of the Sunday Telegraph, it transpired that the UK Home Office may not be taking this visit too seriously. The issue hinges around a memo written after a brainstorming over the Ideal Pope’s visit. The whole story is here.

Surprisingly, this accident is receiving much more attention in UK than in Italy. The Italian websites mention this accident just in passing. This is partly justified by the fact that today, 25th April, is an important date in Italy: it is the anniversary of the defeat of Fascism in 1945. The media attention has therefore focused on the celebrations taking place around the Belpaese. Among these, there has been a speech on TV by the Italian Prime Minister.

Now that elections are gone and that the TV can go back to talk politics, Berlusconi appeared on TV to tell citizens about the value of freedom, democracy, and…. the necessity to change the Italian Constitution. His argument highlighted the obvious strong connection between freedom, democracy, and himself becoming more and more powerful.

Thus,  little room is left, on Italian websites, to the Pope accident. The few articles I have found loosely refer to an incompetent with-collar in the Home Office, who has been ‘removed’ already. It  also seems to me that words have often been translated in a vaguely instrumental way (“silly” became “idiot”, “far-fetched” became “hard-core”, etc.). All they seem to do is to highlight that something very stupid, thus not worth discussing, happened somewehere in England..

Catholics may well feel upset by this memo: how can the British ask the Pope to do something against child abuse? And what’s this crazy thing, blessing gay couples! Gay people have no rights; in fact, they are a threat to society. Nonetheless, I think Catholics would have an interest in having the issue discussed on the Italian media. Actually, they may even ask the Pope to change plans and cancel the visit to UK. This would throw many academics and common people into dismal, true: yet, respect is respect.

Instead, the Italian media have remained quite silent on the Pope memo. No one wants to talk about it. Let’s forget it all happened, and let’s focus on freedom and democracy.

(Posters appeared today in the streets of Rome, celebrating Mussolini: “An idea vanishes, when no one is able to defend it anymore” . The phrase was meant to criticise the celebrations for the 25th of April)

Written by TheItalianist

25/04/2010 at 19:37

The Body of the Women

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I have disregarded the blog in the last two weeks –  apologies to myself for this.

During this time, things didn’t stop happening in Italy. The Vatican has been at the centre of some stories, some polemics, which nonetheless it successfully rejected in its usually moderate, though still strongly persuasive, way.

In the face of accusations that represent, obviously, nothing more than another attempted coup in Italy, it is important to defend what the Vatican does to protect the catholic values and to ensure that their integrity be not compromised. In an ever-expanding and multicultural society, the Vatican’s function is, to use the Pope’s own slang, a cardinal one.

It is in this spirit that a documentary was presented in Italy last year, about the role of the woman in the Italian culture. This documentary, titled “Il Corpo Delle Donne” (“The Body of the Women”), seeks to give evidence that the catholic values are still thriving in Italy, mainly because of the vigilant presence of the Vatican, that keeps an eye on what goes on TV at dinner time, on Sunday afternoon, etc., basically in those moments when families (the Family!) gather around the table and in front of the TV, thanking God for this food and this TV news.

The documentary is subtitled in English. It lasts 25 minutes. Please watch it, and let me and/or the Pope know what you think about it.

Il Corpo Delle Donne

Written by TheItalianist

16/04/2010 at 14:37

Italian Drama on a Remote Island

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A large part of today’s news focuses on one of Italy’s current main concerns, the reality Tv-show Isola dei Famosi. It is true that Italy is also worried about the possibility of a coup d’état. However, for many democratically-aware Italian citizens, the Isola is more important. After that, Italians care about their own values.

Imagine what  happens, then, when these two key elements of Italian life get head-to-head. This, apparently, occurred two days ago in L’Isola dei Famosi. I have to underline ‘apparently’, because I did not actually watch it, though I was able to read about it profusely, thanks to the almighty Italian media.

A reminder of what the Isola is about can be found here. Basically, a group of VIP persons are placed on some island, and they have to survive. The fun bit seems to be that they, being VIP, are used to a certain level of facilities and cosmetics that, we assume, will not be available on the remote island on which they are cast together with their TV troupe. The dramatic images of famous VIP actresses/models/dancers deprived of their make-up, and of VIP muscular men who can’t shave their chests, keep over 4.5 million people in front of the TV. Apparently, the Isola has the magic effect of making the VIP women look like this:


These VIP ladies are Loredana Lecciso and Tracy Fraddosio, btw.

A couple of days ago, one of the VIPs on the island allegedly freaked out. Nothing strange, that happens quite often, and in fact it’s probably in the script (ops, did I say that?) The deranged hero is Aldo Busi, a VIP writer who, for some reasons, is not as famous for his books as much as for his provocative behaviour on TV, where he abundantly appears. This may not be surprising, given that one of his last literary achievements is a VIP pamphlet titled One needs balls to get it in his ass (Bisogna avere I coglioni per prenderlo in culo). This the Aldo:


As with the ladies above, the Isola turned him into something else:

Yesterday, Busi said “enough!” with the Isola, and clearly stated -in front of 4.5 million devoted citizens– that he was tired of being the scapegoat of the group, and probably sick of being sourrounded by progressively uglier VIP people. It is not known (to me, at least) what brought the VIP rage on the island.  Yet, in declaring that he was going to quit the Isola, Busi criticised homophobia. May homophobia  be the cause of this unshaved breakdown?? – we all wonder.

Busi is a declared homosexual, and the title of the pamphlet above might suggest he is quite open about it. He might have felt targeted by offensive comments by other VIPs on the island:  this might have led him, understandably, to the extreme act. I have found his final speech on the internet, which reveals Aldo’s literary value (my translation, free but faithful):

My contract is finished, exhausted. There is no story anymore. I am afraid that, if I were to stay here, I would win. I have taken part in this for a sort of resigned melancholy. I want to offer the example of the old man who steps aside. I would find it humiliating, for me, to win this little race. (…) I am not part of the kind of people who are on this island.”

So far, so good. High drama, strong emotions, unshaved people – it’s the Isola at its best. Yet, Busi then moved on to a different level when he focused on one person in particular, one who has ascended to the status of VIP by being the adopted son of a gay-icon, the singer Renato Zero. This is Renato Zero:


Zero is not married (gays don’t really get a chance in Italy, do they), yet he has somewhat managed to adopt the guy in question, some dude called Roberto. Again, I miss some crucial details about how this could have happened. Nevertheless, the presence of Roberto onthe island triggered  Busi’s attack against Italy’s homophobia: “The reason why I am attacked is because I am anticlerical. Because I say that the real problem of our society is not the homosexual, is the homophobe. Those are the sick, the perverted ones, whether they are politicians or priests. (ouch.. careful Aldo..) But one cannot say these things on TV. In a few moments, this camera will switch off, and I’ll disappear.” Cool stuff, probably better than his books. 

Yet, at some point Aldo got carried away, and pointed at the Pope as the main homophobe.

This is the Pope:


“Don’t say that, Aldo!”- you can see him gesture..

That was the end of the story. In fact, as we all know no one fucks with the Jesus. Thus, today the RAI, the National TV channel that proudly broadcasts the Isola, issued a statement, condemning Busi to yet another exile, this time not on TV but from TV. Busi has been banned by all RAI programmes, forever, due to “breach of contract”.

How did he breach thye contract? Given that Busi has a tendency to yell, swear, smash things and offend anyone anytime he goes on TV, (and that this is probably the reason why they put him on the island), he must have said something particular, on this occasion, to ‘breach the contract’.

Any hint?

Politicians followed quickly to support RAI’s decision mainly from the Right. The Right, as we know, is the one more attached to moral values. Apparently lots from the Right fall within those 4.5 million people mentioned above. They all promptly expressed anything from “despise” to “disconcert”at Busi’s immoral attack to the Holy Father (see above). Not even  VIPs can offend the Pope!

Ah, Aldo.. How can you offend the Pope? How can you call him homophobe?? The Pope is the symbol of morality. He loves everyone. Everyone loves the Pope.

 Go back to your VIP pamphlets, Aldo. And write them in silence

Written by TheItalianist

19/03/2010 at 00:53

Ego Te Absolvo

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Something quite serious happened yesterday in Italy, but it seems to have gone unnoticed. To be more precise, the event has received partial coverage on the media, but I think a very superficial and slightly instrumental one.

The Pope received yesterday, in the Vatican, a delegation of members of the Italian Civil Protection. The event was meant to celebrate the Civil Protection’s work, particularly in the recent earthquake in L’Aquila on 6th April 2009.

During the meeting, the Pope addressed especially Guido Bertolaso, the head of the Civil Protection. Bertolaso is currently at the centre of a massive scandal hinging on corruption and prostitution. The Pope stated “I thank [Bertolaso] for all he does for civil society and for us”. The Pope also praised all the volunteers of the Civil Protection for their effort in helping the relief operations after the earthquake that hit L’Aquila 11 months ago.

The praise to the volunteers is deserved, even necessary. The work they have been doing to help the affected population of L’Aquila is truly admirable. It is important that the institutions, and the Vatican, acknowledge the country’s gratitude and appreciation for this work. What I think is somewhat shocking is the presence of Bertolaso at this event.

Guido Bertolaso, who has been mentioned in this blog before, is at the moment one of the dodgiest persons on the Italian scene (and this says already a lot.) An inquiry over the way he used to award  contracts for relief operations, for important events such as the G8 and for the Swimming World Championship in Rome two years ago, revealed a system based on pure corruption. There is evidence that one of the ways in which Bertolaso used to award contracts involved being offered prostitutes in health centres in Rome. In phone tapping records, Bertolaso is heard calling the manager of the health centre to ask whether Francesca, a girl to which he would “like to give a ripassata (a good going-over)”, was available that evening.

Another key individual in this sleazy affair is Angelo Balducci, the head of the state public works office, who is actually under arrest in connection with this story. Balducci was the person Bertolaso appointed to realise the G8 in Sardinia, then in L’Aquila, last year. It has emerged in the last few days that he (Balducci) is allegedly involved in yet another scandal at the Vatican. Balducci has worked as an usher since the 90s at the Apostolic Palace in Rome, being a member of an elite group within the Vatican called The Gentlemen of His Holiness. You can read about this story here.

Back to the Pope. How on Earth can the Pope welcome a person like Bertolaso? It is certainly true that one is innocent until proven guilty, and I am not hereby condemning Bertolaso. But he might be guilty. He might have gone with prostitutes, sold contracts to incompetent people, accepted bribes, etc. Though it is important, as I said already, that volunteers of the Civil Protection be thanked, isn’t it at least inappropriate to celebrate a person involved in such a massive scandal?

At the end of the day, we are talking of the Church. Catholic values, the values that no one can touch because they are the values that define our identity, our history! Pope Ratzinger has even written a book about Values!

Yet, at the same time in which the veil may be lifted over a system relying on bribery, greed (especially about the earthquake in L’Aquila), and sexual exploitation, one of the biggest suspects is welcome by the Pope in the Vatican!

Ratzinger did the same thing last year, when he met the Italian PM while the latter was at the centre of a very similar scandal. How can a religious leader let individuals who are publicly under inquiry for immoral behaviour inside a place that is meant to be the sanctuary of morality?

What surprises me most is that no one is pointing out how strange this is. Italian Catholics jump from their chairs as soon as someone mentions  removing crucifixes from public schools, or allowing homosexuals to get married. No one dare criticise a religious leader who not only meets publicly with a person of seriously dubious morality, but also celebrates him for “the good things he has done for us”. The Pope has basically absolved Bertolaso publicly, in spite of the serious evidence against the latter’s innocence. “It’s time to stop talking about scandals” – an emotional Bertolaso commented after meeting the Pope.

One might find this slightly revolting. Where are the Catholics now? Do they all agree that it’s time to stop talking about scandals?

Read this for a suggestion of why the Pope may be interested in forgiving “some” Italian sinners.

Written by TheItalianist

07/03/2010 at 16:21

Throwing Things at Democracy

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A month has gone since the day the Italian PM Berlusconi was hit by a statuette of the Duomo in Milan, thrown at his face by a mentally ill person, Massimo Tartaglia. The world still remembers, and will for a long time, the shocking images of Berlusconi’s face covered in blood, his eyes staring blankly at the cameras.. That was really a scary episode, and it has been described as the result of the “climate of hatred” that anti-democratic individuals had fostered against the PM in the months leading to the attack.

Sadly, the Government had to (temporarily..) give up some of the most urgent and necessary measures to prevent further spreading of hatred.  Hence, the enemies of democracy have been able to come back on track, and use the internet to keep the fire of hatred going. Now, some of these emenies of democracy are even claiming that Berlusconi had not been injured at all, and that the attack was set up by the PM’s entourage. How could they say so? I am going to mention a few anti-democratic points about the accident.

Here is, once more, a video of what happened:

One main anti-democratic question has to do with the PM’s security service. In a case like that, it is expected they protect the PM’s safety, by taking him away immediately from the place of the attack. There could be other attackers ready to strike again. Instead, Berlusconi was taken into the car, which remained there. After a while, he came out again. His security guys even helping him to stand up and show himself to the public! I can see two explanations for this (apart, of course, from the anti-democratic one): a) Security did not know of the climate of hatred ; b) Berlusconi was showing Italians that a further increase in the tax load will be justified by the cost of re-making his face.

The infamous statuette of the Duomo was never found. We know that it is what Tartaglia used to hit Berlusconi. But how do we know that, since it’s never been found? Also, some point out, undemocratically, the strange trajectory the object has when it hit the PM, and his very unnatural reaction when hit by it. He covers his face with a coat, or a bag, or whatever black he has in his hands. A Youtube video highlights the strange fact that, before throwing the object at Berlusconi, Tartaglia is standing just between two journalists, one holding a TV camera, another holding a microphone. According to an anti-democratic theory, the man with the microphone says something to Tartaglia, before the latter carries out his evil act.

In an undemocratic frame, it appears quite clearly that there is no blood on Berlusconi’s face when he enters the car. That frame refers to a moment in which Tartaglia has been already identified and immobilized by the security service: which means, some 20seconds (or more) after the object hit Berlusconi’s face. No sign  of blood. Then Silvio goes into the car, and when he gets out, blood everywhere.

Not really everywhere, actually. After the promenade, Berlusconi is taken to the hospital. His personal doctor, Alberto Zagrillo, informs the journalists of the PM conditions: the impact with the little sculpture of Milan’s Duomo had caused a fractured nose, two broken teeth, a facial trauma. Berlusconi had also lost half-a litre of blood.

Yet there is no trace of this bloodshed on his face: his shirt is perfectly white. No blood running from his nose.

The anti-democrats say this was all set up to get Berlusconi out of the fire, after months of accusations for sex scandals, corruption, anti-constitutional laws and mafia links. This is all impossible, of course: Berlusconi entered politics SIXTEEN years ago, promising a “New Italian Miracle”.

He has clearly fulfilled his promise:

13th December 2009

6th January 2010

Written by TheItalianist

13/01/2010 at 09:48