Page 3, 27th September 1968

27th September 1968
Page 3
Page 3, 27th September 1968 — ALAN McELWAINS ROME DIARY

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Locations: Mexico City, London, Rome, Naples


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Press attacks Pope for social reform warning

P0 PE PAUL, universally

beset by critics of his birth-control stand. is in more trouble, this lime at home. Italian newspapers are roundly criticising him for "meddling" in State affairs.

He has done this, they claim, in a letter he sent to the annual conference of an organisation dealing with Italian social problems. He warned political partics against putting sectional interests before the common good. He also spoke out once again against divorce. support for which is gaining ground in Italy where at present it is outlawed by both Church and State.

The official organ of the small but vocal Italian Republican Party promptly dubbed this "an obvious intrusion in Italy's public affairs."

Without naming them, Pope Paul then took a smack at organisations which accentuate class distinctions. and also warned against the proliferation of political parties.

Immediately a dissident Catholic workers' body, the powerful Association. of Christian Workers (ACLI), saw itself as being among the unnamed culprits in this bracket. Only recently Mr. Livio Labor, the president of ACLI, which advocates direct dialogue between Catholics and Commtkfists, had said that ACLI was

not bound to vote for Italy's ruling Christian Democrat (Catholic) Party. While at it. he hinted that ACLI might turn itself into yet another of Italy's prolific !political parties.

The Christian Democrat Party itself also angrily interpreted parts of the critical Papal letter as a warning to put its own hoUse in order and reacted with some extremely uninhibited resentment.

While the wrangle grew, Pope Paul found himself in the whimsical position of being supported by none other than the Italian Communist Party which, ever since the late Pope John was alleged to be inclining "left," has had a way of taking Popes, at least temporarily, under its wing.

Its official newspaper. Unite, described as "censorship unprecedented in recent years" the action of the Christian Democrat newspaper, Il Popolo. in omitting to publish large 'Sections of the Pope's letter. The Communists also said that the Pope was quite right in a lot of the criticism he had made of political hither and yonning.

In any case, the testy Italian press and politicians had all made a horrible mistake. That, at any rate, is what the Vatican newsp.aper, L'Osservatore Romano, would have us believe. The Pope's letter, it said, was a "universal" document with "no specific intentions" towards any particular country. This set the Italians off again.

Meanwhile, an unrepentent Pope has continued to castigate those liberals who make themselves "troublesome and harmful to the Church of God" by demanding upheavals rather than reforms following the Ecumenical Council, A "spirit of corrosive criticism has become fashionable in some sectors or Catholic life," he said. He made pointed reference to those who consider the staging of "sit-ins" in cathedrals an appropriate method of backing their extremist causes.

He also condemned what he termed "lascivious" music. This. one hoped, included that incomprehensible bleating, mooing and whining which oozes interminably from Italian radio, television stations and transistors.


An Italian film which had the distinction of being awarded the Catholic International Cinematographic Office's (OCIC) first prize at the recent Venice Film Festival has had the added .distinction of being confiscated . by the 'Italian police. It is Teorema, made by the controversial producer Pierpaolo Plasolini, who gave us the memorable Gospel According to Sr. Matthew.

OCIC found Pasolini a man of "true spiritual restlessness." It commended Teorema for the sincerity and precision with which the film, "entirely impregnated with the ambiguity that is the appalling mark of our time, brings before the bourgeois society, which is also harshly depicted in its negative characteristics, the dramatic and undeniable fact of religious experience as proposed by the Scriptures to man's conscience in all times."

More concisely, the Italian Public Prosecutor summed-up the film in one word—obscene. He withdrew it from circula tion throughout Italy. Pasolini will be prosecuted.

The Italian bishops' film commission had already forbidden Teorema to Catholics as "negative and dangerous." It was undermined to the roots by Freudian and Marxist concepts and paradoxically attempted "to reach a religious landfall by following roads contrary to it," they said.

And, just to top things off, the Italian film censors had approved Tcorerna before the Public Prosecutor disapproved it.

As the Great Goldwyn said (or didn't he?), censorship is a double-barrelled sword.

While tney arc at it, the Italian bishops have decided that, as frOm January 1, 1969, all films, from a moral point of view, are to be divided into four categories: those permissible for all Catholics, those permissible for adults only, those that may be viewed by adults of "particular maturity," and those that are forbidden absolutely.

"Films of particular value" in the first three categories will be marked by a star in lists issued by the bishops film commission,


San Marino, the world's oldest and smallest (23.5 square miles) republic, this week gave warning to the athletics world that it means business at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. It is sending a four-man team — two cyclists and two trap shooters, plus two coaches. It will be the first time San Marino. perched on top of rocky Mt. Titano. 12 tniles inland from Rimini on Italy's Adriatic Coast, has ever been represented in, Olympic Games outside Italy. In 1960 it had a small team at the Games in Rome. What happened to this team could not be said to inspire confidence in the 1968 one.

But San Marino's Minister of Sport, Signor Luigi Lonfermini. is optimistic. "This time I think we'll win a bronze medal," he says. His White Hope is one of the trap shooters, Leo Marino Franciosi, who came fourth in the last world championships.

San Marino makes a lot of money out of postage stamps. If it. pulls off a win at the Olympic Games there will be an issue guaranteed to send the collectors wild.

Rural life

The Catholic Rural Life Conference and the Intermediate Technology Group of London are sponsoring a conference in Rome from October 11 to 16 on intermediate tech

nological development in under-developed countries.

More than 150 experts, representing 30 organisations specialising in economic development in Third World countries, will take part. They will discuss practical, rather than theoretical, ways by which the under-developed countries can immediately raise their standards of living.

The experts point out that big and extremely costly development programmes have often failed because of the lack of sufficient education, skills and technological training and experience in these countries.

While on holiday recently at Sabaudia, halfway between Rome and Naples, I was pleased to see a bridge built across the local lake since I was last there was named the John XXUL

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