The Italian Almanac

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Poe Benedict and his handsome secretary

Italian News - November 25

Italians are eager to see whether a TV comedian who delights in impersonating the pope will dare to continue his tricks after ten days of polemics and put-downs from the Catholic world. Maurizio Crozza, whose show goes out on Monday evenings, gave his pope impersonation a miss last week after Italian bishops' daily Avvenire accused him of "satirical fundamentalism" and a cardinal said his sketch was offensive. But the Genoese comedian has made it known that his Benedict sketches will continue, so his fans are waiting for more scenes of the Crozza-pope dancing, telling jokes and rapping out orders to his cardinal sidekicks.

Two other comedians who have been in the firing line for poking fun at well-known figures in the Vatican are also brushing off criticism. They will both have ample opportunity this week to produce comic responses. Top Italian showman Rosario Fiorello, who does a popular take-off of Benedict's young private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenschwein, said recently: "I don't think I'll go to Hell for doing this sort of satire. The whole controversy is preposterous". Fiorello, who has a weekday radio show and frequent spots on TV, recently portrayed Gaenschwein complaining about service in a fictitious Vatican restaurant called The Last Supper where small amounts of fish can be made to serve multitudes.

Comedienne Luciana Littizzetto, who regularly mocks Italy's highest-ranking cardinal, Camillo Ruini, has made light of criticism. She talked this week about meeting Cardinal Ruini in a pizzeria where she would give him the capers off her pizza as a sign of friendship. She also joked about the Benedict XVI calendar that is currently being sold on Italian newsstands, saying that if the Vatican wanted to make money it should sell a calendar featuring the good-looking Gaenschwein.