Referendum on Assisted Fertility Fails in Italy

Church Opposed Proposals

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ROME, JUNE 14, 2005 ( Only 25.9% of Italians entitled to vote took part in the referendum to allow experimentation on human embryos and to loosen the restrictions on assisted fertility.

The low turnout doomed the referendum, held Sunday and Monday. The Italian bishops’ conference urged Catholics to abstain from voting, since the referendum would only be valid if at least 50% of those entitled to vote did so.

«A referendum campaign has taken place as never before seen,» Fabio Mussini, vice president of the Pro-Life Movement, told ZENIT. «The whole cultural intelligentsia, from the important newspapers to women’s magazines, from Nobel Prize winners to show-business people, promoted a ‘yes’ with all means.»

«All surveys attributed a growing percentage to the ‘yes,’ from 40% to 50% over the last days,» Mussini observed. «The surveys themselves attributed a 5% weight to the Catholic Church in influencing the vote. And yet, they lost.

«How is it possible that so much power got such low results? It would seem that there is a very profound split between the ‘men of culture’ and the people.»

Commenting on the results of the voting, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the Rome Diocese and president of the Italian bishops’ conference, said during an aside at a conference in Fiuggi: «I am positively impressed by the maturity of the Italian people.»

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