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Vatican dossier ‘used in smear of Catholic editor’

Whispers were reverberating around the Vatican yesterday over incendiary claims by the editor of the Berlusconi family newspaper that the Holy See was the source of bogus documents sent to blacken the name of a Catholic editor.

Dino Boffo was forced to resign as editor of Italian Bishops' Conference daily Avvenire last September after an article by Vittorio Feltri, the Rottweiler editor of Il Giornale, claimed Boffo was a “renowned homosexual” who had been fined for harassing the wife of a man he was pursuing.

Mr Feltri later admitted the claims were based on bogus documents, which he said were sent to him, and he apologised.

By then relations between the Church and Mr Berlusconi's government had gone into deep-freeze. Now, however, it has emerged that during a fence-mending lunch in Milan last week, Mr Feltri told Mr Boffo that “a very authoritative, and institutional source at the Holy See” had sent him the bogus dossier. Mr Boffo repeated the claims to Catholic publication Il Foglio on January 30. “A person in the church contacted me and let me have the photocopies,” he said.

Monsignor Domenico Mogavero, Bishop of Mazara del Vallo in Sicily and head of judicial affairs for the Italian Bishops Conference, told La Repubblica he was “alarmed” by events.

“If the accusations against Boffo really originated from the church we are facing a moral situation, a sin,” he said.

But Federico Lombardi, the Vatican Press spokesman, dismissed Mr Feltri's claims as mischief-making.

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