The appeal follows public condemnation by the bishops of an explicit sex scene in Caos Calmo, starring the Italian actor and director Nanni Moretti, which has just been released.
Franco Zeffirelli, the film and opera director, was quoted by The Times as saying that :"The Church is full of pedants who have lost all sense of proportion." It was a "fourth-rate" film that did not merit the publicity generated by the bishops' intervention.
The row comes amid charges that the Centre Right, led by Silvio Berlusconi, is playing the Catholic card by making abortion an issue in the run-up to the general election in April. Berlusconi has asked the United Nations to pass a moratorium on abortion and the death penalty.