Italy is the exception among the Episcopal Conferences because the Pope, as Primate of Italy, appoints its President. The post of the president of the CEI carries with it great prominence in Italy as Cardinal Camillo Ruini has used the pulpit to great effect in furthering the pro-life cause and the cause of family. Archbishop Bagnasco is the successor of the current Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Archbishop of Genoa.
VATICAN CITY, MAR 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the office of president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, presented by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, upon having reached the age limit, and appointed Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, Italy, as the new president of that episcopal conference.
The CWNews report a few days ago, speculating about the appointment, is given below.
New president expected for Italian bishops' conference
La Stampa reported on February 22 that Archishop Bagnasco would be the next leader of the episcopal conference, replacing Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Several other journals are now backing that story, saying that the announcement should be expected on Wednesday, March 7.
Questions about the leadership of the Italian bishops’ conference have been raised frequently in the pst year. Last year Camillo Ruini completed a third 5-year term as president, and signaled that he would like to be relieved of the responsibility. But Pope Benedict chose to extend his term, rather than make a chance just prior to important national elections.
In Italy the head of the bishops’ conference is selected by the Pope-- rather than elected by his fellow bishops, as in other countries. Since late last year, Vatican insiders have reported intensive lobbying about the next selection.
March 7, the day cited by newspapers as the date that Archbishop Bagnasco’s will be named, will be the 16th anniversary of Cardinal Ruini’s first appointment. The cardinal, who is 76 years old and has cardiac problems, will remain in place as vicar for the Rome diocese, the reports say.
Archbishop Bagnasco, who is 64, was appointed last year to replace Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news) in Genoa, after Cardinal Bertone became the new Vatican Secretary of State. Archbishop Bagnasco had previously served as Bishop of Pesaro, then as the head of Italy’s military ordinariate. He is considered a near-certainty to be named a cardinal at the next consistory.
Speculation about the leadership of the Italian bishops’ conference has been particularly intense in recent weeks, because Cardinal Ruini and the Italian bishops generally have taken a high-profile stance in opposition to a bid for legal recognition of homosexual civil unions. Archbishop Bagnasco is unlikely to change the bishops’ stance on that issue. He recently spoke out in defense of the bishops’ activist role, noting that state recognition for civil unions would “affect fundamental principles on which the Church has a clear position.”