As much as I appreciate Italy's largest Catholic weekly blasting the country's degenerated political class, I can't hold myself from thinking how hypocritical this all sounds. To make my point, let's start with a big story last month:
Italy's Catholics are upset with the country's leadership. Actually, they're "disgusted."
That is the underlying argument in an editorial that appeared in the Famiglia Cristiana, the country's third most distributed weekly magazine and arguably the most influential Catholic periodical among Italians. (An average 557,000 copies per week were sold in April)
The unsigned editorial, titled "A country without a leader, and politicians who fight over everything," tried hard to deliver its punches, but it failed to mention specific names or parties. It remained vague, a practice the Church has perfected throughout the centuries:
"Public opinion, although drugged by television, is disgusted by the not-so-edifying spectacle that, almost every day, is brought to us by a political class that fights over everything," the article states, "too far from the people and impotent at resolving the country's serious problems."
The editorial doesn't limit its critique towards politicians. It also accuses the business, communications and cultural sectors of not doing their share of work to keep up moral values that evidently the Church still cares about.
"No ideas of common well-being emerge, ideas that would allow to overcome divisions and party interests."
Sure, Italy's modern political class doesn't seem to be doing much for the common good. But I mostly blame this attitude on the Church, which is about 18 years too late in criticizing Berlusconi and his showbiz approach to life and politics.
Instead of opposing the rise of the media tycoon in the early 1990s, the Church let him through the main door and looked to him and his racist and xenophobe Lega Nord allies as the natural successors of the corrupt and dismantled Democrazia Cristiana, a party based on Catholic values that had ruled Italy from 1946 to 1992.
Now influential Catholic voices such as Famiglia Cristiana are saying people are "drugged by television." But by omitting that almost all of television is in one way or another controlled by Berlusconi, whoever wrote the editorial for the magazine is carefully avoiding the larger issue: Berlusconi is responsible for having media-"drugged" a large portion of the Italian population.
There used to be a time when the Vatican could decide the political career of a politician. That is clearly not the case anymore, seeing how Berlusconi is still in power after all the sex scandals that plagued his 2009 summer.
The Church has long ago signed a contract with the devil. In 2005 it vehemently opposed a series of referendum on assisted reproduction and fertilization. Berlusconi and his allies were more than happy to back the Vatican's crusade, which ended in a victory over civil liberties in the name of exclusive divine -- or religious -- rights on who is eligible to procreate or have a family.
If the Vatican and Italy's influential Catholics are truly disappointed by how this government is acting, then they should ask the Italian people to forgive them for letting such a political class thrive unpunished for almost twenty years.
Once the Church has clearly admitted its faults, then it can start addressing the issue of Italian politics with a more honest and objective approach. Until then, St. Peter's alarm bells will ring without a sound.