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Vatican newspaper backs Mario Monti

‘A call for politics on an elevated level’

Pope Benedict XVI greeting Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti during a private audience at the Pontiff’s summer residence in Castelgandolfo in August. Photo: AFP

Pope Benedict XVI greeting Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti during a private audience at the Pontiff’s summer residence in Castelgandolfo in August. Photo: AFP

The Vatican’s newspaper yesterday voiced its support for outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti, whose readiness to take part in the forthcoming election campaign has pitted him against scandal-hit Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti’s use of the term “ascent into politics” – a barbed reference to Berlusconi’s oft-quoted phrase in which he announced his “descent” into the political fray in 1994 – was “a call to rediscover the more noble meaning of politics”, L’Osservatore Romano said.

Monti, seen by some as a means of preventing Berlusconi from returning to power and undoing hard-won reforms, has urged com-patriots to “rise up” and commit to renewal of national politics.

“It is a call for politics on an elevated level which the figure of Mario Monti is probably in the process of grasping,” the paper said.

The Roman Catholic Church, an influential political player in Italy, once supported Berlusconi but took steps to distance itself from the media magnate amid a series of high-profile sex scandals.

Monti announced on Friday that he would step down after 13 months at the head of an unelected team of technocrats that was appointed to steer Italy out of a financial crisis that could have had dire consequences for the entire 17-nation eurozone.

As an Italian senator for life, the former premier cannot himself run for office, but is in a position to be renamed prime minister if a party or coalition that he supports wins the vote on February 24-25.

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