ITALY, as 1 write, has been floundering along for five -•weeks without a government while attempts have been made by three Christian Democrat (Catholic) party leaders, popularly described as seasoned legislators. to revive the Centre-Left coalition government of Christian Democrats. twD Socialist parties, and the Republicans. This combination preceded a minority Christian Democrat government, which fell last February, when the Premier, Signor Mariano Rumor, decided that it was not strong enough to run a country smitten by recurrent strikes. disorder and increasing public resentment over the high cost of living and the idiocy of a bloated bureaucracy. Divorce has been the stumbling-block to all negotiations for the introduction of the Centrek-I eft. A pending Bill which will legalise divorce for the first time in Italy's history is supported in Parliament by every party except the Christian Democrats. They have been unable to reach any compromise over it with their prospective coalition partners who. basically, take the simple line that Italy is to be run by its government, not the Vatican. Pope Paul, for his part, has flung a mighty ecclesiastical spanner in the political works by twice announcing, during the 'crisis, that he will not have the divorce law at any price and that its passage will constitute a breach of the 1929 Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy. This lays n ca that only Church tribunals it down annul Italian citizens' Catholic marriages. One of Italy's most astute and intelligent politicians is Signor Giovanni Malagodi. leader of the liberal party. who, let me add irrelevantly, was born in England. He reminded his political brethren recently that the late President Kennedy, during the 1960 American presidential election campaign, had em phatically declared that he would not allow the Pope or any other religious authority to dictate his decisions on such issues as divorce and birth control, Signor Malagodi implied that if this was good enough for a statesman of Mr. Kennedy's international standing. it should be good enough for those Italian Christian Democrats who were. letting Italy go hang while toeing the Vatican line. (Signor Malagodi has a nice astringent wit. Al a dinner some of us once gave in his honour. he was asked to what extent ,the Pope really dictated to the Christian Democrat party. He simulated shocked surprise. Any innuendo of this kind was quite unjustified, he replied. adding; "Apart from practically acting as secretary-general. of the party. the Pope shows no interest at all . ." This was as far as the laughter let him go.) It seems likely that, by the time this is published, President Giuseppe Saragat will have to call a General Election three years ahead of time. This is the only alternative should the last-ditch attempt to revive the CentreLeft fail. General elections at this time would be a disaster. They would be fought on a bitter Church-State line the like of which everyone imagined had been dead and buried long ago. No responsible politician wants them, The public. already fed to the teeth with political bumbling, doesn't want them. The powerful Italian Communist party alone stands to benefit from them. In the interim before elections could be launched. Italy presumably would have to be run by some sort of committee. Buona Notte, Mrs. Campbell.
Priest introduces 'fiancee'
DON PIO OTTEGNO, 37, calmly finished reading the Gospel of the Mass, ran through a few parish announcements, then looked up and startled his congregation. "It is my intention to marry," he said. "My fiancee is that girl seated in the front pew. Her name is Clara Panizollo. She is of age and lives in Turin." Miss Panizzolo, 22, is an attractive brunette who works in a pharmaceutical products firm. Don Ottegno said he would like to continue in the priesthood as he saw no reason why a married priest should not serve the Church faithfully. By marrying, a priest did not necessarily lose his faith. He asked the congregation for their prayers. So that there should be no scandal in the parish, he was being perfectly frank and open with them. Don Ottegno's superior, Bishop Giuseppe Angrisani, of Casale Monferrato, has suspended him from his duties and replaced him. Don Ottegno is secretary of a liberal group of priests and laymen who recently published a book supporting divorce.
In a statement following his suspension, Don Ottegno ,said that people were fed up with "absent priests" who lived closed in their churches. far from worldly matters, ignorant of the everyday facts of life. The people, he said, wanted "worker priests. husband priests, father priests, who suffer and work the same way they do."
Archbishop in disfavour
ONLY about half the clergy in the Ravenna archdiocese are supporting their bishop in a dispute which has developed between himself and the Vatican. Last month, the Vatican announced that had placed "under investigation" 63-year-old Archbishop Salvatore Baklassari, known throughout Italy for his "liberal" views, which have frequently clashed with those of Pope Paul. The Vatican has sent a cardinal as Apostolic Visitor to Ravenna to report on the archbishop's administration. At a recent meeting of clergy in Ravenna, only about 65 of 130 archdiocesan priests attended, with 20 brothers from religious orders and some laymen. Earlier almost half of the clergy had rejected a declaration of solidarity with Archbishop Baldassari, passed• by the pastoral council at a meeting attended by only 10 of its 22 priest members.
Archbishop Baldassari believes the Pope should be elected by the bishops and not the Sacred College of Cardinals. He also believes that the time has come when religion in Italy should be separated from politics. He thinks part of his disfavour with the Vatican arises from his refusal to rebuke nine of his priests who favoured relaxation of the Church's clerical celibacy law. The archbishop explained that the priests had told him they were "merely expressing an opinion" and had no intention of leaving the Church over the issue
MY OLD New Zealand friend and one-time journalist colleague, Fr. William Jordan, 60, whose wartime adventures as a secret agent in Greece and France are recounted in his recent book, "Conquest Without Victory" (Hodder and Stoughton), was ordained from the Beda College on Sa turday. On Sunday, the former "Major Bill" (M.B.E., M.C.), as Gneek and French partisans knew him, said his first Mass in the chapel of the Jesuit Curia. His brother, Jesuit Fr. Gregory Jordan, who did much to encourage Bill to become a priest, is Rector of Riverview College, Sydney, where Bill taught before going to the Beda. The Mass was quite an "Australasian" occasion. Four Australian priests, Fathers R. Austin, T. O'Hara, S.J., S. List, 0.C.S.0„ and P. Meagher, Si., concelebrated. with three New Zealanders, Fathers A. Campbell. S.J.. C. Fitzgerald, and B. O'Brien, S.M. (assistant to the: MaristGeneral), and Fr. B. Hall, Si_ superior at the Curia. The Rev. B. Austin was deacon. Fathers R. Austin, List and Meagher (of the Australian Jesuit mission in India, now doing postgraduate work in Rome), are Riverview College old boys and Fr. O'Hara taught there. The organist was Mr. Edward Theodore, of Sydney, another Riverview old boy, whom Fr. Bill Jordan taught French. Two of Fr. Jordan's sisters, a brother-in-law and friends from New Zealand, as well as many of his Rome colleagues and friends, were present. Fr. Jordan wrote the words of the entrance hymn, "0 Father Almighty, We Praise You This Day?' basing them on the Gospel of the Mass.
Sympathy for envoy
THERE is great. sympathy here for those two extraordinarily popular members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Joseph Shields, and Mrs. Shields, whose daughter, Harmony, died last week in New York.
She was the wife of Dr. Alban Coughlin, from County Tipperary, who is in America on a scholarship to Topeka, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Shields's bereavement is made additionally 'sad in that they are to leave Rome soon for Ottawa, where Mr. Shields will be Irish Ambassador, and were looking forward to being so much closer to their daughter, son-inlaw and grandchild, as well as to a son who also lives in America.