No trust

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi loses reputation among the country's church-affiliated Catholics. While Berlusconi was still trusted by 42 percent of this group in November 2010, by the end of January it was only 32 percent, according to a survey by the opinion research institute SWG in Trieste. Among voters overall, approval remained steady at 33 percent during the period, according to the survey.

Since reports of sex parties, alleged aiding and abetting underage prostitution and abuse of office, 30 percent of practicing Catholics are "ashamed" of Italy's image abroad; 20 percent feel "disgust" at Berlusconi's behavior, the survey found.

For the poll, commissioned by the Christian Social Movement in the opposition Democratic Party (PD), according to SWG 4.000 adult Italians contacted; the percentages refer to 700 Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week.

A bad example
48 percent of the respondents considered the previous statements of church authorities on Berlusconi's affairs too lenient. 35 percent described statements such as the generally held words of the Bishops' Conference President Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco as appropriate. 7 percent called it too strict. 58 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that Berlusconi's behavior sets a bad example for young people.

An online survey launched Tuesday by the Catholic weekly "Famiglia Cristiana" comes to an even clearer conclusion. Of more than 28.000 voting by Friday, 75 percent said they were in favor of Berlusconi's resignation. 23 percent favored his remaining in office, 2 percent were undecided.

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