.- The official publications of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, as well as several local Italian political officials, have strongly criticized the leaders of western nations for the silence regarding the threats and insults that have been leveled against Pope Benedict XVI by Muslims.
The Italian bishops’ Religious News Service expressed its solidarity with the Pope and its surprise at “the silence of the heads of state and intellectuals of democratic nations that have their roots in Catholicism or Christianity. The West does not have the courage, apart from a few isolated cases, to defend the same freedom of expression that it will not deny anyone.”
Likewise, “Avvenire,” the Italian bishops’ newspaper, posed the question that, by insisting that Benedict XVI “apologize or retract his comments, for no reason, who could now talk, discuss or express an opinion, even in a respectful way, of the Muslim faith?”
Prominent Italian politicians followed suit in criticizing western governments, especially that of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, saying his “silence in the face of a violent campaign against the Pontiff is scandalous.”
According to a report by the Efe news agency, “the current vice president of the Senate, Roberto Calderoli, called for the resignation of Prodi and of Maurizio Lupi, the leader of Forza Italia (the party of Berlusconi), and said the ‘silence of Prodi is unbearable’ and that all the western governments should express a clear position.”
Italy’s former Minister of Justice, Roberto Castelli, announced that conservatives in the Senate have introduced a motion in support of Benedict XVI. Enrico La Loggia, another leader of the Forza Italia party, has said Italy’s ambassadors to those Muslim countries that have criticized the Pope should be recalled.