Vatican Media Watch

Vatican Daily Rebukes New Italian Government

REUTERS, May 23 — The Vatican’s newspaper criticized Italy’s ministers of government for the comments they made in favor of policies that contribute to the culture of death, Reuters reported.

L’Osservatore Romano criticized comments by Italy’s health minister in favor of the abortion pill, calling RU-486 a weapon to carry out “carefree murder.” Health Minister Livia Turco said she favored controlled trials of the abortion pill, which is not available for general use in Italy, as a “safe and alternative method to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.” Previously, the paper called a proposal by Family Minister Rosy Bindi, a Catholic, to discuss some kind of legal recognition for civil unions “indefensible.”

Turco’s predecessor in Silvio Berlusconi’s government halted experiments with the RU-486 and recommended the presence of pro-life activists in state-funded advisory clinics to discourage abortion. The issue has taken on added relevance because of Italy’s low birth rate, with women of childbearing age having on average just 1.3 children, one of the lowest fertility rates in the world and down from 2.2 in 1975.

In an editorial, the newspaper said, “The haste in which new ministers are lining up to assert their intentions on particularly sensitive themes is disconcerting. … It’s feminism we frankly did not feel the need for.”

Cardinal: Vatican Has the Right to Voice Concerns

AKI, May 18 — Cardinal Camillo Ruini said the Church has a vested right to participate in the political debate over “principles that are not negotiable,” the international news service reported.

Speaking prior to Pope Benedict’s address to the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ruini cited that the Church is concerned with the “promotion and safeguard of human life, of the family based on matrimony and not on other forms of union, and of parents’ rights to educate their children.”

The Holy Father had already defended the Church’s voice in politics ahead of a general election in Italy April 9-10. In an address to members of the European Popular Party in March, grouping Christian Democratic parties in Europe, Pope Benedict had said the Church could not be “relegated to the private sphere.”

Vatican Unmasks Bogus Papal Organist

THE TIMES, May 24 — A man who had claimed he played the organ at St. Peter’s Basilica and at private Masses in the papal chapel has been exposed as an imposter by the Vatican, the Times of London reported.

Massimiliano Muzzi, 34, whose virtuosity had been hailed by audiences in Europe, the United States and Australia, was in the middle of a tour of Germany when he was found out. James Edward Goettsche, the American who has been the real Vatican organist since 1989, began receiving e-mails and telephone calls asking if he had retired, been dimissed or even died.

The Vatican said that Muzzi — or his agent — had shown prospective promoters official-looking documents which purported to back up his claim to have been appointed by the Pope, with photographs of Muzzi posing in front of St. Peter’s holding sheet music by Bach. While the photographs were genuine, the documents were forgeries, the Vatican said.

Muzzi has now apologized to the Vatican for publicity referring to himself as the Pope’s organist, but said it was the fault of the promoters. He said that he was “absolutely not responsible” for the deceit, and had “no need of such ruses to win professional engagements.”