(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano who handed in his resignation as head of state on Wednesday, leaving Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with the politically delicate task of finding a successor.
The 89-year-old Napolitano was widely respected outside Italy as a guarantor of stability during the euro zone crisis. He had always been expected to step down before the end of his second term in office because of his advanced age.
In the personal message, Pope Francis expresses his sincerest esteem and appreciation for Napolitano’s generous and exemplary service to the nation, which was carried out, he says, with “authority, faithfulness and tireless dedication to the common good”. The president’s wisdom and inspired action, the Pope continues, have strengthened “the ideals of solidarity, unity and harmony” within the difficult national and European contexts
With elections in Greece due later this month and the European Central Bank under growing pressure to take unprecedented steps to fight the risk of deflation, Napolitano’s departure adds to an increasingly uncertain climate in the euro zone. Italy is struggling to emerge from years of recession and the government faces a series of hurdles to its economic and constitutional reform agenda.
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