Italian Bishops Outline Country´s Priorities

Following Berlusconi´s Victory in Elections

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ROME, MAY 15, 2001 ( The Italian bishops´ conference has outlined the priorities it thinks Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi and his government need to face.

Center-right leader Berlusconi, a media magnate and leader of the House of Liberties electoral alliance, will govern with an ample majority — a unique phenomenon in the last 50 years — having obtained 369 seats in the Chamber. In the Senate the alliance won 177 of 315 seats.

His opponent, Francesco Rutelli, former mayor of Rome and leader of The Olive center-left coalition, obtained 250 deputies in the Chamber during Sunday´s elections.

On Monday, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the bishops´ conference, said it is not the prelates´ task «to pass judgment on the results» of the elections. But he expressed the desire for greater stability and consistency in the political realm, for the sake of citizens´ needs.

The cardinal criticized the electoral campaign, which was marked by frequent personal attacks between the candidates and left little room for debates on programs.

Among the priorities presented by Cardinal Ruini to the new government are the need to place the family and the defense of life at the center of politics; to struggle against poverty, by promoting jobs; to combat the country´s «ethical void»; to recognize, effectively, the role of private schools; and to struggle against organized crime.

He also proposed a new endeavor to improve social security.

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