Pope Paul VI announced yesterday that he would attend a funeral mass for murdered Christian Democratic leader Aldo Moro, the first time the Pope has attended funeral services for anyone but one of his cardinals.
By his gesture, the pope set the stage for a reconciliation between the embittered Moro family and the Christian Democratic Party to which Moro had devoted his 30-year political career.
Following Moro's written last wishes, the family had barred the participation of political figures from the private funeral it conducted in a village north of Rome on Wednesday, amost immediately after obtaining release of the bullet-riddled body left the day before in the heart of Rome by his Red Brigades kidnapers.
Meanwhile, the urban guerrillas kept up their terror campaign against middle-ranking members of the Italian establishment. The Brigades claimed credit for the third leg shooting in Milan in the three days since Moro's dealth. Yesterday's victim was Tito Berardini, 41 secretary of one of the sections of the Christian Democratic Party in Milan.
A brigades communique said Moro's killing was "just one of the hundreds of fighting actions that the communist vanguards are lauching agaisnt the centers and the men of the imperialist counterrevolution."
A controversy also broke out over whether the police had ignored warnings that Moro was in danger. The respected newspaper Corriere della Sera described the contents of a two-page police report to Rome judicial authorities saying that kidnaping was being prepared and that security around Moro should be reinforced.
The report, which a relaible source said he had seen, was dated Feb. 15, Moro was kidnaped March 16.
Another article, published in the Turin newspaper La Stampa yesterday, said that Moro's chief bodyguard, Oreste Leornardi, one of the five killed when Moro was kidnapped, had requested an armored car for Moro. Leonardi said he had noticed a small white Fiat tailing Moro's car.
The request by Leonardi also reportedly came in February.
Efforts to get the authorities to comment on the two reports were unsuccessful.
The stories were considered sure to fuel the controversy over police failure to protect Moro and their failure to get any useful leads on his kidnapers during his captivity of nearly two months.
Taking up Moro's accusuation in his letters from captivity that his former colleagues had "abandoned" him, Moro's family had asked that there be no state or other official commermorative observances. A family spokesman said of the funeral mass scheduled for today at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, "No one from the family will attend. Aldo Moro has been buried. His funeral has taken place."
After the pope's announcement, however, the family expressed its "devoted and filial" gratitude for the pontiff's appeals earlier for his friend's life. The family also said it recognized "the most exceptional gesture by which the Holy Father had decided to preside at the service."
It was later made known that Moro's brother and sister would attend the service, although his widow and children remain in seclusion.
It will be only the second time this year that the Pope leaves the territory of the Vatican. St. John is the cathedral for the city of Rome.
Security around the basilica for Italian and foreign leaders and clergymen will be extremely heavy, police said. They refused to give details other than to say that there would be strong police reinforcements in Rome.
The U.S. delegation is to be headed by Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano.
The Italian government has not encouraged foreign governments to send large or high-ranking delegations, apparently because of the security problems involved. The Italian government asked that foreign delegations be limited to three members.