"Moderate Bergoglian" New President of the Italian Bishops' Conference -- Cardinal Bassetti
The outgoing Cardinal Bagnasco and newcomer, Cardinal Bassetti
(Rome) The Italian Episcopal Conference has great weight in the world church and a new President is Gualtiero Cardinal Bassetti, the Archbishop of Perugia. He replaces Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, in this function. The new President Bassetti is almost a year older than the outgoing Bagnasco. For the first time the President was appointed according to the change of the statutes by Pope Francis. Thus the lot fell on the most moderate among the "Bergoglianians," who is considered a "friend" of the pope.
"By hearing the news of my appointment as the President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, my first thoughts are those of gratitude to the Holy Father for the courage he has shown to give me this responsibility at the twilight of my life. It is really a sign that he believes in the ability of the ancients to be able to dream ... "
With these words begins the first public statement of Cardinal Bassetti as the new president of the Italian Bishops' Conference. On the 7th of April the Cardinal completed his 75th year. Where some bishops, including archbishops, even in the best of health, are retired by Francis, like Archbishop Luigi Negri of Ferrara, while others [less able and orthodox] are extended in office. With Francis, much is a question of the content, but also of personal sympathies, as it is described in Rome.
In his first statement, the Cardinal also emphasized that he wanted to be "in the service of the last", the "poorest" and those "thrown away by the world."
Cardinal Bassetti enjoys the personal sympathy of the pope
Gualtiero Bassetti was born in 1942 in Tuscany. In 1966 he received priestly ordination and was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Florence. After parish work and schooling, Cardinal Benelli appointed him as rector of the archbishop's seminary in 1979. Under Benelli's successor, Cardinal Piovanelli, he became Vicar General of the Archdiocese in 1992.
In 1994 Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Massa Marittima and in 1998 Bishop of Arezzo. He is known in Italy during 2008 for his commitment to the workers of the Buitoni factory of Sansepolcro, who were threatened with dismissal because of the sale of Nestlé to Newlat. Pope Benedict XVI promoted him to the archdiocese of Perugia in 2009 and gave him the pallium. Since 2009 he was deputy president of the bishops' conference.
Pope Francis summoned him as a member of the Congregation for the Bishops in Autumn of 2013 , created him as a cardinal in February 2014 and called him into the Congregation of Clergy.
While important bishops' seats such as Venice went empty, Archbishop Bassetti was elevated to Cardinal by Francis, which indicated a special papal sympathy. In 2016 Francis commissioned the Cardinal to formulate the meditations for the Via Crucis at the Colosseum.
At the same time, Bassetti belongs to those bishops, who, following the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, also celebrated Holy Mass in the traditional form of the Roman Rite. This was certainly true in 2011 when Benedict XVI, reigned.
From the "Sirian" Bagnasco to the "Bergoglian Bassetti"
Cardinal Bagnasco, whom Bassetti replaces, had been the president since 2007. Bagnasco is not only a successor of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri as Archbishop of Genoa, but is also considered to be his pupil. For this reason, Benedict XVI put him at the top of the Episcopal Conference.
The papal appointment is subject to a special clause: Article 26 of the Statutes. While the Bishops' Conferences around the world choose their presidents themselves, there are two exceptions. One is Belgium, the other is Italy. In Belgium, the respective Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and the Primate of the country is also automatically president of the bishops' conference. Since the Pope is also Bishop of Rome, and therefore, head of the Bishop's Conference, he is automatically its president. Just as the Pope does not personally fulfill his duties as Bishop of Rome, but appoints a cardinal vicar, he also appoints a representative, who presides for him in the bishops' conference.
With the election of Pope Francis, it was soon clear that the spiritual consensus between Cardinal Bagnasco and Pope Benedict XVI. was no longer a given. Francis had Bagnasco in office, but disempowered him. The Pope can also appoint the Secretary-General of the Episcopal Conference. Francis invoked Bishop Nunzio Galantino, who since then has been the leading man in the Episcopal Conference and will probably remain.
The choice of a trio
In 2014, Pope Francis Francis had changed the statutes of the bishops' conference, which had now come to the fore for the first time. According to the new regulation, the Episcopal Conference now has to submit to the Pope, by an absolute majority, a proposal of three, from which he determines his legates.
On May 22, the Bishops' Conference began its Spring Conference. It included more than 200 bishops. A good third of it was already appointed by Francis. This shift in the axis was also reflected in yesterday's three-stroke rally. One thing was already clear in advance that because of the special situation, no candidate could be proposed to the pope and the actual president who did not meet his expectations.
All three of the three candidates who were elected yesterday were therefore "Bergoglians". Beside Bassetti it was the Bishop of Novara, Franco Giulio Brambilla, and the Bishop of Agrigento, Cardinal Francesco Montenegro. Like Bassetti, Montenegro too had been elevated to Cardinal by Francis.
In the trio Bassetti was the most appropriate "Bergoglian". This is also the reason why he received the most votes from the bishops. In the third ballot to the first ballot, in which only the two most voted were left, he won 134 votes against Brambilla, who came in with 86 votes. Already in the first two polls were Bassetti, Brambilla and Montenegro above all others.
Bassetti was at the top of the three-man suggestion to the Pope yesterday. Francis appointed him to be the new president of the episcopal conference. This morning Cardinal Bagnasco announced the papal decision after the morning Mass to the bishops.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: CEI / Diocesi Perugia (Messa Tridentina Perugia (Screenshots)
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