Five Years for a Joke About the Pope?

Catholics Offended by Pope Gay Reference

In a country that is home to the Catholic Church and where the majority of the citizens are Catholic, the jokes against the Pope have offended Italians who find it hard to associate the Pope with sexual and, even more upsetting for some, homosexual activity.

The organizers of the demonstration have distanced themselves from Guzzanti, and members of Berlusconi's coalition have shown support for the prosecutor.

"Her crime is not having expressed her opinions, but having insulted the Pope. Insults are not opinions, and therefore Ms. Guzzanti must be punished," Michele Scandroglio, a regional coordinator of Berlusconi's Party Forza Italia, told ABC News.

"Democracy is not a screen behind which you can hide to say and do whatever you want. We hope that the move of the judge should teach comedians to auto-regulate themselves and not go beyond the limits of good taste and common sense," said Angelo Marra, spokesperson for the Christian-Democrat Party.

Although many don't approve of the way Guzzanti expressed her personal views about the Pope, others in Italy were skeptical about sending her to prison, limiting a fundamental right such as the freedom of speech.

"It is possible to criticize the Vatican interference with Italian politics, but some comments are repulsive," said Italian newspaper editorialist Beppe Severgnini. "However, also repulsive comments should be free and should stay out of tribunals. We have to fight so that everybody can say the silliest things, above all in Italy where there is a growing feeling of intolerance that I really don't like."

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