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“We need people with a vocation in the public square who can influence society with the gospel”, says Italian Evangelical Alliance’s Stefano Bogliolo.
Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is ready to come back to national politics. The country’s top court confirmed last week the acquittal of Berlusconi on charges that he paid for sex with an under-age girl in a party and then abused his position as Prime Minister to cover it up.
These cases had received much international media coverage, with the media following for years the cases related to the so-called “bunga-bunga parties”.
“The Supreme Court of Cassation (the highest court of appeal in Italy) confirmed the acquittal of Berlusconi for its two charges: child prostitution and corruption”, explained Stefano Bogliolo, board member of the Italian Evangelical Alliance (AEI).
“According to the judges, it was not proven that Berlusconi knew the actual age of Karima El-Mahroug (known as ‘Ruby’), the girl that he paid. In the second case, the acquittal, according to some commentators, was due to recent changes in the anti-corruption law, which divided the offence in two: coercion and induction.”
MANY SCANDALS AND STILL 3 TIMES PRIME MINISTER
Billionaire Berlusconi is one of the richest businessmen in the country, owning a multimedia empire which has helped him become one of Europe’s most influential figures.
Berlusconi has been Italy’s Prime Minister in three different periods: from 1994 to 1995, from 2001 to 2006, and from 2008 to 2011.
Stefano Bogliolo, pastor and spokesman of the AEI, gave some insight on the figure of Berlusconi and what could happen next, in answers to Evangelical Focus.
Question. Do you think Berlusconi should keep acting in national politics?
Answer. I do not think that Berlusconi’s profile makes him worthy to represent the Italian institutions with dignity. Despite the acquittal for the two aforementioned charges, the same judge has proved that in the course of so-called “elegant dinners”, there was prostitution (although this is not a crime).
Nevertheless, other criminal proceedings against the former Prime Minister are still pending. And one of these has to do with the accusation that he paid some girls (and still does), in order for them to lie about what really happened in those “elegant dinners”.
Q. What does Berlusconi's figure say about ethics and morality in the Italian society?
A. Unfortunately, Italy, as all other Western countries in recent years, has seen the collapse of the moral level of society. First of all by the representatives of the institutions, among which Berlusconi is the most famous one.
He not only had an immoral behaviour, but through his television networks, he has flooded the houses of the Italians with immoral shows, starting in the early 80s, so giving a strong contribution to the moral decline of Italian society.
Q. What do evangelicals think of Berlusconi's way of doing politics?
A. Many evangelicals voted for Berlusconi in the past, because they believed that it was the lesser evil. Because they thought that as the head of a centre-right coalition he could have better protected the same values shared by Christians; and been able to stop attempts by the left-wing parties to introduce gay marriage, euthanasia, the liberalization of soft drugs, ... But I'm not at all so sure that there may be many evangelicals today who still think that way, and who would be ready to vote for him again.
Apart from moral considerations, what we really need is that evangelicals understand the importance of being “salt and light” in society, committing themselves to prayer and to encourage people with vocation in the public square who can influence society with the Gospel. Until we reach that point, we will always deal with the same situations. Being indifferent and totally delegating it to others are not Christian attitudes.