Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas message to Italians is being read as a near-endorsement of another term for Premier Mario Monti.
centrists are pressing Monti to run.
Monti, an economist appointed in
2011 to save Italy from financial crisis, is a practicing Catholic whose
Cabinet includes a minister closely linked to the Vatican.
he'd serve again if asked by political forces backing his austerity
Benedict's greeting to Italians Tuesday
included a wish that they reflect on a "hierarchy of values" when making
The ANSA news agency says that
is "very close" to a Monti endorsement for February's elections. Vatican
pronouncements wield influence in Italian politics
predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, is plagued by sex and corruption
Berlusconi, denying any wrongdoing, hasn't clarified if he's