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Under attack for calling homosexuality sinful, Christian Democrat and papal confidant Rocco Buttiglione said Saturday he was abandoning efforts to become European Union justice commissioner, a bid that had kept the new EU Commission from taking office.

Buttiglione defended his religious beliefs but insisted they would not have affected his work for the EU.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that Buttiglione would remain as European affairs minister in his conservative government.

The new commission was virtually doomed to rejection by the European Parliament if Buttiglione were part of it. Last week, the new EU top executive, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, withdrew all 25 nominees to gain time to find a solution.

The European Parliament must approve all 25 nominees for the commission, which runs the EU's daily affairs, to begin work.

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