Italian Catholic Voters Offered a Decalogue

Bishops Outline Criteria to Consider at Polls

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ROME, MAR. 28, 2001 ( Cardinal Camillo Ruini began his third mandate as president of the Italian bishops conference by offering voting guidelines to the country´s Catholics, in the midst of the electoral campaign.

Italians go to the polls May 13 to elect deputies and senators who will support the new government. Francesco Rutelli, a center-left former mayor of Rome, and Silvio Berlusconi, a center-right media magnate, are vying to be president of the Council of Ministers.

Cardinal Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for Rome, told the bishops´ permanent committee that the Church must not be accused of political interference if it offers principles which help Catholic voters´ discernment.

A veritable decalogue, abstracted from the cardinal´s address and articulating the criteria that Catholics should keep in mind when voting, was summarized Tuesday by the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

1. Life: Must be defended in “every moment of its existence.” This implies “integral respect of the embryo” and rejection of cloning and euthanasia.

2. Family: “Founded on matrimony,” it cannot be compared to other forms of living together. An “organic law” is necessary which will offer fiscal aid to couples.

3. Parity between public and private schools: “It continues to be an objective of primary importance,” which must lead to “full and concrete” support of private education.

4. Social justice: Work, employment, “attention” to weakest social strata and the very poor south of the country, ensuring the “liberty and efficiency of the economic system.”

5. Immigration: “Acceptance” to guarantee a “worthy integration” in “respect of values and norms that regulate coexistence.”

6. Security: It is necessary to be firmly opposed to “all criminal and illegal acts,” respecting the “principles and guarantees of the state of law.”

7. Health, environment, nature: Defense, which implies combating dangers “stemming from violations of realities on which our life depends.”

8. Institutional reforms: Harmonize the reappraisal of “local autonomous [bodies] and intermediary social bodies,” with adequate reinforcement from the central executive government.

9. European unity: Italy must make a “full contribution” to this objective, without giving up the country´s “cultural, civil and moral patrimony.”

10. International solidarity: Complete dedication to this cause, as well as to the cause of justice and peace, especially in favor of “populations in conditions of inhuman poverty.”

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