Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On St Siro's Chair

Making good on his June promise to "provide in short order" for a successor to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as archbishop of Genoa, this morning Benedict XVI used the city's patronal feast of the Madonna della Guardia to name Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, the head of Italy's military ordinariate, to the post.

It's already been announced that the 63 year-old Bagnasco will be installed in Genoa, where he spent his priesthood, on 24 September.

A native son's appointment to one of Italy's traditional cardinalatial sees indicates that the recent pattern of Genoa archbishops -- i.e. the last two (Cardinals Dionigi Tettamanzi and Bertone) ended up going somewhere else -- is something of the past. Bagnasco has served as Italy's military chaplain-in-chief since 2003; he was ordained bishop of Pesaro in 1998 and elevated to archbishop in 2000 when it became a metropolitan see.

In his previous Genoa days, its new archbishop served as a seminary professor, spiritual director, head of the archdiocese's liturgical apostolate and its catechetics and education offices. The thread of youth ministry runs through his priesthood -- he was once the diocesan representative to the FUCI (the Italian federation of Catholic collegians) and once led regional efforts for the pastoral care of students.

Notably, the appointment appears to be a valedictory victory for Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the outgoing papal vicar of Rome and strongman of the CEI, the Italian bishops' conference. Since 2001, Archbishop Bagnasco has served as head of the board of Ruini's prized organ of communication, the CEI's daily paper, Avvenire.