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Berlusconi Critic Downed by Gay Smear Campaign

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An Italian Catholic editor known for his attacks against the "immoral" lifestyle of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Wednesday after sustaining allegations from Berlusconi associates that he is gay.

Dino Boffo (pictured), editor of Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference, said that the smears, published by a newspaper owned by the Berlusconi family, had thrown his professional and personal lives into tumult.

Vittorio Feltri, editor of the Berlusconi-owned newspaper Il Giornale, alleged that Boffo was a gay man who had run afoul of the authorities, according to London's The Times newspaper.

"Mr Feltri, who is leading an aggressive 'counteroffensive' to 'unmask' critics of scandals in Mr. Berlusconi's private life, had unearthed a 2004 incident in which Mr. Boffo paid a fine for alleged telephone harassment of the wife of an unnamed man whom Il Giornale claimed had been his gay lover, adding that he was a homosexual 'known to the police for this kind of activity,'" reported the newspaper.

The incident added to tensions between Berlusconi, a media mogul with a playboy reputation, and the Vatican, which supported Boffo.

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