BECAUSE Rome postmen refused to be burdened with tons of General Election propaganda being sent through the mails. the entire community has been deprived of letters for a week.
The effect of this upon the business community — to say nothing of the emotions of parents who have not heard from children at school in England and elsewhere, tourists waiting to hear from home and others cut off from normal correspondence — has been quite devastating. As if the postmen cared.
On top of this, there have been no legislators around to take the chaos in hand. Parliament is dissolved and the politicians are all far too busy worrying about their seats and their parties to worry about the public.
Throughout the week, the striking postmen have added their uproar to the pandemonium created by cars and vans blaring election banalities through loud-speakers. The postmen's idea of making themselves heard has been to march about the city centre, childishly blowing whistles. How grown men blowing whistles expect to be taken seriously is one of those things not worth going into.
As for depriving citizens of election propaganda, you didn't have to wait for the leaflets to be stuffed, by the dozen, into your mailbox. You could scoop them up by the armful from the etreets and gutters if you were that interested.
The entire city and suburbs was ankle-deep in waste paper. I myself for days in my neighbourhood stamped over a carpet formed by the none-tooattractive features of a candidate for honours.
But at least, as 1 write, the excruciating 70-day election campaign has ended, which means the disappearance from highways and byways of those damned vehicles lethally blaring martial music and lugubrious slogans.
Also ended, to the shattered nation's joy, is the blatant hogging of television news programmes on the State-controlled screens by politicians, notably Premier Aldo Moro, to the point where their neverabsent faces were apt to bring on screaming fits.
Mixture as before
By the time you read this, the results of the Italian election campaign will be known. Last weekend, a total of 35,563,000 voters were asked to elect 630 deputies and 315 senators from 7,366 candidates representing 29 (believe it or not) assorted parties. Of the eligible voters, just on 17.000,000 were men and 18,500,000 women.
The result was expected to be the mixture as before -a continuation of the five-year old Centre-Left coalition Government of Christian Democrats, Socialists and Republicans, with Signor Aldo Moro, the Christian Democrat leader, again Premier, and the Socialist leader, Signor Pietro Nenni, Vice-Premier.
A factor in this. election was nearly four million young people, voting for the first time this year (as against 2,500,000 at the last General Election), and representing 10.46 per cent of the electors. The Italians called them the incognito, or question-mark voters. Many of them were expected to vote Left, with preference for the Socialists.
The Catholic Church, naturally, urged electors to vote for the Christian Democrat (Catholic) party, infuriating some democratically minded and influential Catholic groups, who protested against the "undue and heavy interference" in the voters' choice.
The Vatican week 1 y Osservatore Della Domenica told voters to elect Christian Democrat candidates, but also warned the party to pull its socks up and get into step with modern requirements after the polls.
For several years past, an annual fair has been held for the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, the "English" church in Rome, of which Cardinal Heenan is titular. This year, the committee has become more ambitious.
A garden fete is to be held on June 15 in the grounds of the splendid Villa Doria Pamphili — made available, with their usual kindness, by
Lieut.-Conamancrer Frank and Donna Orietta Doria Pamphili.
An admission card, which cost me a modest 1,000 lire, tells me (in English and Italian) that there is to be "an all-day party from 11. a.m. until 6.30 p.m. " at which there will be an Italian military band, bridge,
games, rides, children's amusements, lunch, snacks, teas and drinks.
As if that isn't enough, there is also to be a pageant; and for a colourful setting for that sort of thing it would be hard to beat the Villa Doria Pamphili. So, if you happen to be over here on Saturday, June 15, you'll know where to make for.
Evening-before Mass The Italians are habitual goers-out-of-town on Sundays, particularly in summer. A new rule in the Rome diocese, of which the Pope himself is Bishop, that they can fulfil the obligation of Sunday or any Feast Day Mass the evening before will make their recreational planning much easier.
It will be particularly interesting to see if this results, overall, in more Catholics attending Mass. Many of them/ are pretty slap-happy at present: if it isn't convenient, they just don't go.
The rule comes in on June 1. Those attending the eveningbefore Mass will be able to take Communion even if they had already received it the morning of the same day.
Cardinal Angelo Dell'Acqua, whom the Pope appointed his, Vicar-General for Rome only three months ago. released the decree. He has been tremendously active since he took over. and doubtless it was on his recommendations that the Pope acted.
Rarely had the two priests of Santa Maria Della Sanita in Naples seen such pious little boys or heard such lengthy confessions covering, literally, a multitude of sins.
Eight youngsters aged from 10 to 12 kept them in their confessionals for a long time — long enough, in fact, to enable the church microphones and loud speakers to be dismantled and spirited away.
It turned out that while some of the penitent little fellows were keeping the confessors confined to their boxes, others were hard at work on the apparatus, worth quite a bit if they could sell it.
However, police who were already looking for a youthful gang wanted for other thefts. picked up the lads before they could profit from their Santa Maria initiative. They are now under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.