Today's audience was the first granted by Benedict XVI to Romano Prodi in his capacity of prime minister.
Prodi also met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.
A communiqué issued after the meeting by the Vatican press office said: "During the cordial meetings, consideration was given to topics concerning bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Italian republic, with particular reference to the fields of bioethics, of the defense and promotion of life and the family, of solidarity, of dialogue between religions and cultures, and of the education of youth.
"Time was also dedicated to examining questions concerning international politics, especially as regards the situation in the Middle East and the Italian commitment in Lebanon, as well as the importance of Christian values in the process of European integration.
"The desire for close collaboration between the parties was reiterated, for the progress of the Italian nation and for the good of the international community."