Top prelate urges 'sobriety' amid Berlusconi sex allegations

22nd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Echoing a call by Pope Benedict XVI in early July, Cardinal Bagnasco said: "As bishops of this beloved country, let us stress, along with the pope, the importance of ethical and moral values in politics."

Rome -- The head of the Italian Catholic Church called Monday for more "sobriety" in the public arena following months of salacious allegations about Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex life.

"Whoever accepts a political mandate should be aware of the restraint and sobriety, the discipline and honour that is entailed," Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said as he kicked off a meeting of key Italian bishops.

Echoing a call by Pope Benedict XVI in early July, Bagnasco said: "As bishops of this beloved country, let us stress, along with the pope, the importance of ethical and moral values in politics."

The remarks before the Italian Church's "parliament" came as Berlusconi fought persistent allegations of sexual peccadilloes.

Earlier Monday, a judge in southern Italy placed the entrepreneur at the centre of a call girl scandal involving the billionaire prime minister under house arrest on allegations of drug trafficking.

Gianpaolo Tarantini, who claims to have paid call girls to attend parties at Berlusconi's private residences, was arrested at the airport of Bari, capital of the southern Apulia region, on Friday.

The judge confined Tarantini to house arrest because he posed a risk of recidivism, media reports said.

Tarantini is already under investigation for corruption, and wiretaps led to charges of "incitation to prostitution".

Tarantini says he paid some 30 women who were prepared to provide sexual favours "if the need arose" to attend parties thrown by Berlusconi between September 2008 and January 2009.

The 72-year-old Berlusconi, a renowned playboy, has said he has never paid for sex, while admitting that he is "no saint."

The flamboyant prime minister's attendance at the 18th birthday party of aspiring model Noemi Letizia in April was the final straw for the media tycoon's estranged wife, who has filed for divorce saying she could not stay with a man who "frequents minors".

AFP/Expatica

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