.- Italian officials and politicians have accused “radical and Masonic” groups of being behind the threats by the European Commission to investigate supposed “fiscal advantages” of the Catholic Church in Italy.
The Minister of Infrastructure, Antonio Di Pietro, said people were playing politics in order to keep others from doing good and that the European Union should occupy itself with more important matters.
The accusations are the result of recent investigations launched by the EU into whether or not the tax-exempt status of the Church’s hospitals, schools, and other social service organizations should be withdrawn.
Clemente Mastella, Minister of Justice, said the suspicions of the European Commission were only a “pretext.” The Union of Christian Democrats and the Center said “radical and Masonic” groups were behind the actions in Brussels. The political party Forza Italia implicitly accused former government official Romano Prodi of the Radical Party, which is heavily Masonic, of being involved as well.
Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, responded that the Church has helped many people in the past and he warned against falling into “ideological prejudices.”
The Church in Italy has long been exempt from certain taxes and receives tax breaks for its work in health care and education.