Vatican accused of plotting Prodi downfall
The Vatican has been accused of '"meddling" in Italian politics and causing the near collapse of the government after a Catholic minister left the Prime Minister's coalition.
Mr Clemente Mastella's Udeur Paty holds three crucial seats which has kept PM Romano Prodi in power.
However, Mr Mastella withdrew his support for the PM. The Telegraph reports many believe the reason for this change of heart came directly from the Vatican.
The Vatican previously voiced its opposition to Prodi's stance on gay rights and abortion. Last year, the Vatican also shook the government when Mr Prodi lost a vote on his foreign policy on the same day that a gay marriage bill entered parliament.
Italian newspaper La Stampa stated that the Holy See was trying to meddle in Italian politics. "Prodi's government dared to challenge the ecclesiastical hierarchy for the second time and this time it has had its hands burned," it said.
Franco Giordano, a Communist MP, said that Mr Mastella was merely a "loudspeaker" for the Vatican, and that he had switched sides because he was told to.
As Mr Mastella announced his defection on Monday, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco,(pictured) the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, attacked Mr Prodi saying it was a "lazy administration and shirking of responsibility."
FarmersItalian government near collapse after Vatican 'plot',(The Telegraph UK 23/01/08)
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Italian government in turmoil as Catholic party withdraws support (CathNews 23/01/08)
24 Jan 2008