Berlusconi-Church relations sour after attack on Catholic editor

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London, Aug 29 (ANI): Relations between Silvio Berlusconi and the Catholic Church soured yesterday after the Italian PM was forced to pull out of a Mass intended to begin his religious rehabilitation and a newspaper owned by his family ran a scathing report on a top Catholic.

The 72-year-old tycoon, whose private life has come under media scrutiny and Church criticism - thanks to the alleged sex scandals, abruptly axed a visit to the central Italian city of L'Aquila, where he was to have attended an annual religious ceremony for the forgiveness of sins, reports The Times.

Also, Il Giornale, a national newspaper owned by Berlusconi's brother Paolo, ran a banner front-page headline against Dino Boffo, editor of Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Il Giornale said Boffo, whose paper has been very critical of Berlusconi's private life, had accepted a plea bargain in a court in 2002 after he was accused of harassing a woman. The paper said Boffo had a homosexual relationship with her husband.

Revelations surrounding Berlusconi's private life and his impending divorce from wife, Veronica Lario, has caused dismay among many leading Italian Catholic figures.

Since attending the 18th birthday party of Noemi Letizia, an aspiring model, in April, Berlusconi's personal life has become the focus of a long-running scandal.

After the birthday news broke, Lario demanded a divorce.

Also, Patrizia D'Addario, a Bari prostitute, has claimed that she spent a night at Berlusconi's Rome residence last November - which he has denied. (ANI)

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