Skip to comments.How Many Votes Is a Photo Op With the Pope Worth?
Posted on 02/18/2013 7:37:29 AM PST by Alex Murphy
Even though a large majority of Italian Catholics don't regularly attend Sunday Mass, the Vatican traditionally wields influence on politics in Italy, a country where Christian Democrats held sway for decades. Just about anything the pope does or says is big news. And Pope Benedict XVI has made no secret of his preference for Monti, a practicing Catholic, whom he greeted warmly on Saturday in one of his last private audiences with an Italian political leader.
But a photo op with the pope is Italian candidate heaven, and Monti, because he is premier, got the providential tete-a-tete with Benedict as part of the pontiff's farewells. That Benedict carved out time in the waning days of his papacy to chat privately with Monti reflected both the importance accorded to the relationship between Italy and the Holy See, as well as the Vatican's own preference for Monti.
On Saturday evening, as cameras clicked and rolled, the outgoing pope and caretaker premier grasped hands and smiled warmly at each other in the ornate Apostolic Palace.
If Monti's rivals fumed, they did so in private.
Milan daily Corriere della Sera wrote of the Benedict-Monti farewell that no politician dared to publicly grouse that their rival was getting an unfair boost for fear of "a boomerang" effect from devout Catholics.
Still, "the parties' silence doesn't erase the annoyance felt in some quarters for an appointment on the cusp of the vote," Corriere wrote.
Bersani's Sunday rally, his last of the campaign, included a surprise speaker, ex-premier Romano Prodi, a practicing Catholic who has defeated Berlusconi in the past and was viewed favorably by the Vatican when he twice governed Italy. Coincidence? Or calculated catch-up?
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...