VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II proposed four commitments to Italy, as it prepares for its new government: support of the family, defense of human life, recognition of private schools, and solidarity.
Last Sunday, voters elected media magnate Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister. The new Parliament is controlled by the center-right.
On Thursday, when the Pope addressed the plenary assembly of Italian bishops, he made no reference to the electoral results. Instead, he referred to the Italian situation in general, which “after going through a decade of great contrasts and changes, needs stability and concord to be able to express its great potential in the best way.”
The Bishop of Rome emphasized four decisive aspects of the country´s life, which he has been highlighting for years.
In the first place, the Pope mentioned commitment to “safeguard the rights of the family based on marriage, without confusing it with other forms of living together.” He appealed to the new government for “an organic family policy, suitable to support it in its essential tasks, beginning with procreation and the education of children.”
In the second place, John Paul II mentioned commitment “in favor of human life, from conception until its natural end.” Abortion was legalized in Italy by referendum 20 years ago.
The Holy Father then referred to one of the topics of greatest concern in Italy: the state of freedom of education. He renewed his appeal “for effective school parity, overcoming old ´nationalist´ ideas in order to proceed in light of the principle of subsidiarity and the appreciation, including in the realm of schools, of the many resources of civil society.”
Italy is one of the few countries in Europe where private schools, and Catholic schools in particular, receive virtually no public funding. Many Catholic schools are closing, due to expenses and the drop in population.
The Pope also appealed to Europe for solidarity in the “difficult but necessary” assistance to immigrants, and the creation of jobs, especially in the south, where unemployment is higher.