Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing pressure from the Catholic Church and the ruling coalition following a flood of allegations about his involvement with a teenage underwear model and escort girls, a British newspaper reported Sunday.
"...The patience of Mr Berlusconi's supporters is being stretched to breaking point - and they have been joined by the Catholic Church in warning that the lurid allegations are gravely, perhaps fatally, damaging to his standing," the Sunday Telegraph said.
It said the official newspaper of the Italian Conference of Bishops has urged Berlusconi to issue "a believable explanation? as quickly as possible".
Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the Italian parliament and a senior figure in the ruling People of Freedom coalition, said the scandals had created "a risk that citizens could lose faith in politics and government institutions, which are the foundations of democracy".
The 72-year-old Italian premier has been facing a string of allegations after his wife - herself a former actress and 20 years his junior - publicly objected to his attending the 18th birthday party of Noemi Letizia, a model.
She sued for divorce, accusing him of "frequenting minors".
Last week, a 42-year-old former model, Patrizia D'Addario, claimed to have video footage showing her with Berlusconi in a bedroom in the prime minister's Rome residence.
D'Addario said a pair of businessman brothers recruited women to attend his lavish parties.
The Sunday Telegraph said there are now fears of more revelations to come ahead of next month's G8 summit of world leaders in the mountain town of L'Aquila.
Berlusconi Friday denied the allegations, saying, "I refuse to respond to these questions. There's nothing to clear up. It's all rubbish."
But the Sunday Telegraph said Giuliano Ferrara, a conservative newspaper editor who normally supports Berlusconi, said the prime minister must decide if he wants to "drown in a happy ending made up of parties and beautiful girls" or restore some dignity to "a great political adventure".