Cardinal blesses Mediaset's TG5


ROME -- In an unusual move coming just days before Easter, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome and one of the most powerful figures in the Vatican, blessed Mediaset's TG5 news program and declared himself a fan.

TG5 is the flagship news program owned by Mediaset, the Italian broadcast giant controlled by billionaire media tycoon and three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In his blessing, the Cardinal said he was a "very faithful viewer of TG5's evening program," adding a quote from St. Paul, who said, "The challenge is to value what is positive and good in man" -- indicating that TG5 did just that.

Though the TG5 news program itself is respected, many Mediaset programs have come under fire in recent months for accusations ranging from their undermining cultural values to outright blasphemy.

While it is fairly common for the Vatican to bless a sector as a whole -- the late Pope John Paul II blessed the entire media sector in 2001 -- it is unusual for a company to receive a high-profile blessing like the one Cardinal Ruini carried out, and some media observers interpreted the move as an endorsement of TG5 over rival program TG1 carried by state broadcaster RAI.