AUSTERE Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dubbed in Italy the latter day inquisitor for his Doctrinaire Guidance as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is tipped to become the star turn of a new Italian TV station run by lay Catholics.
Former State TV newscaster turned Christian Democrat Euro MP, Alberto Michelini — now the channel's coordinator has confirmed that Cardinal Ratzinger will make "cultural contributions" to programmes.
Although the Church welcomes the project, aimed at hosting religious broadcasting in Italy at a launching cost of i2.5 million, the Vatican strongly denies financing it. Opus Dei has also dissociated itself even though Michelini is a member and despite provision of the initial cash by two Roman "Opus Dei" businessmen, say reports.
IN THE spring, Italy's constitutional court will decide if Italians are still committing the crime of "contempt ' of religion" if they criticise the Chuich in public.
1 he case follows the Christmas arrest in Orvieto about 40 miles north of Rome of 35 year old Eloisa Manciati, accused of offending religion by displaying the sticker on her car: "Wojtyla? No Thanks".
A group of Orvieto locals had ripped the sticker off and reported her to police. But her lawyer claims she may not have a case to answei since, under the revised church-state cohabitation pact, the Concordat. Catholicism is no longer Italy's state religion.
AT A private audience with the actors who starred in a film version of the Pope's play The Goldsmith's Workshop, John Paul II did not seem thrilled
with the screen treatment of his work.
After a special premier in the Vatican designed as a Christmas gift for the Pontiff by Italy's state 'I V company, John Paul is reported to have commented that he did not feel his play transferred welt to the screen.
According to indiscretions after the audience he also remarked that The Goldsmith's Workshop starring Britons Olivia Hussey and Ben Cross was "a sin of his youth". When asked if he would ever write another, the Pope replied: "No, you try not to repeat such sins".
THE POPE is scheduled to make an historic pastoral visit to Cuba, possibly in 1990, according to reports following a visit to Havana last Friday by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray who presides over the Pontifical Commission "Iustitia Et Pax".
Cardinal Etchegaray met Cuba's communist leader Fidel Castro on Friday and said afterwards that the Island's leader "wished" the Pope would come.
The Pope's foreign trip schedule for the coming year is already packed. He plans to visit southern Africa in April, Scandinavia in June and Korea in October.