By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

ROME, Italy, February 14, 2008 ( – Italy’s conservative candidate for Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has announced that he supports the Vatican’s call for a global moratorium on abortion.  However, despite his initially promising remarks, later comments by Berlusconi cast doubt on his commitment to fight for the unborn if elected.

Silvio BerlusconiThe call for a moratorium began in December of last year, when the “devout atheist” and journalist, Giuliano Ferrara, responded to a United Nations call for a moratorium on the death penalty with his own call that the moratorium include a moratorium on killing the unborn.  Vatican officials and Italian politicians began to endorse the idea, which is now being promoted world-wide.

Ferrara is now running for parliament on a pro-life ticket.

On Tuesday, Berlusconi announced that he, too, supported the moratorium, although he clarified that it was his personal opinion and would not be imposed on his party, Forza Italia.

“Recognizing the right to life from conception to death is a principle that the UN could make its own, just as it has done with the moratorium on the death penalty after a long and difficult debate,” he said in an interview with Tempi magazine.

However, when asked on Wednesday about the fact that Ferrara, who served under him as a cabinet minister in a previous administration, was running on an explicitly pro-life platform, Berlusconi denounced the effort.

“I don’t believe that that is a problem that should be inserted into the political elections, I think that it is a problem that has to do with the conscience and should be left outside of politics,” said Berlusconi.

Ferrara, unfazed, says that he will run outside of Berlusconi’s coalition. “I will run alone; Berlusconi doesn’t believe in this fight enough,” he explained.

Berlusconi is currently running 10 points ahead of his closest opponent, and is reportedly expected to win, although elections will not be held until April 13.