Independent Online - Malta
Web posted on November 14, 2004
Buttiglione outs his EU successor as a Freemason
Rocco Buttiglione, the Catholic politician and papal adviser whose views on homosexuality and marriage cost him his job as an EU Commissioner last month, caused further controversy last week by claiming that his successor was a Freemason.
Signor Buttiglione congratulated Franco Frattini, the Foreign Minister, on his nomination as EU Justice Commissioner, the job for which Signor Buttiglione had been nominated by Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister.
But he went on: I hope his hearings go well and that nobody asks him if he is a Freemason. If they do they will only be repeating the same injustice that was done to me.
Signor Frattini, who has been Foreign Minister since November 2002, held talks in Brussels with Jos Manuel Dur Barroso, the new European Commission President, ahead of confirmation hearings at the European Parliament tomorrow and on Tuesday. Senhor Barroso hopes his entire Commission will be confirmed next Thursday by Euro MPs, enabling it to take office the following Monday.
Freemasonry flourished under the Christian Democrats in postwar Italy, and remains legal. But it is still viewed with suspicion by the Catholic Church.
It has been a highly sensitive issue in Italy since 1981, when a secret and illegal right-wing Masonic lodge known as P2 Propaganda Due was broken up amid public scandal.
Nearly a thousand members of P2 were named, including senior figures in business, politics, banking, journalism, the intelligence services and the military. The scandal brought down the Christian Democrat-led government of Arnaldo Forlani, which had tried to keep the details secret.
Signor Frattini and Signor Berlusconi declined to comment on Signor Buttiglione's outburst. Lapo Pistelli, an Italian left-wing Euro MP, said that it was a poisoned dart. I have no idea if Frattini is a Mason or not, but I have no doubt that, unlike Buttiglione, he will appear at his hearing fully prepared and there will be no unpleasant surprises.
However, Mario Borghezio, a Northern League Euro MP, said he hoped Signor Frattini was Independent of the occult powers which control Europe.
Signor Frattini, 47, a parliamentary deputy for Signor Berlusconi's Forza Italia Party since 1996 and former head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the intelligence services, is widely admired for his competence and equanimity.
Signor Berlusconi held a meeting of his Centre Right coalition to discuss the nomination of Gianfranco Fini, the Deputy Prime Minister, as the new Foreign Minister. Signor Buttiglione, far from returning to relative obscurity as Italy's Minister for European Affairs since his rejection by Euro MPs, has defiantly maintained a high profile through public meetings and interviews, in which he has lambasted the totalitarianism of an over secularised and politically correct Europe.
Last weekend he began a campaign for a return to traditional religious values in public life, and said that thousands of people all over Europe had offered support for his campaign to inject christian family values into politics.