Catholic editor Dino Boffo quits after ‘smear’ by Silvio Berlusconi newspaper

Silvio Berlusconi

Editor resigns while his tormentor Vittorio Feltri - backed by the prime minister - claims ‘victory’

BY Jack Bremer LAST UPDATED AT 08:27 ON Fri 4 Sep 2009

One of the most respected Catholic newspaper editors in Italy, who has attacked Silvio Berlusconi for his "immoral" relationships with young women, has resigned after claiming to have been smeared by a Berlusconi-owned newspaper. As a result, a new rift has opened between the Vatican and the Italian prime minister.

Dino Boffo was the editor of Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI). In the light of escort girls' claims about Berlusconi, and other revelations, Boffo recently ran an editorial which claimed Catholics were mortified by the prime minister's behaviour.

Last week, Il Giornale, owned by Berlusconi's family and edited by Vittorio Feltri, ran an article exposing what it said were Boffo's double standards. The report claimed Boffo had a criminal record and was a homosexual.

Boffo, a married man, denied the homosexuality but admitted that he had once been fined in a harassment case. He said he was resigning because of the damage done to his family and his newspaper by the "barbaric" attack from Il Giornale.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the CEI, accepted Boffo's resignation "with regret". He said Boffo had been subjected to "an indescribable media attack".

Meanwhile at Il Giornale, Feltri, who sees it his job to run a "counter-offensive" to the critics of Berlusconi's scandalous private life, greeted Boffo's resignation by claiming his "first victory in the battle".

But the Vatican, already uncomfortable with the continual gossip about the prime mister, is not amused. Following publication of the Il Giornale article, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, cancelled a dinner with Berlusconi. Also, plans for Berlusconi to greet the Pope in Viterbo this weekend have apparently been shelved. · 

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