Pope Francis lost no time in appointing the Cardinal Archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Gualtiero Bassetti, to succeed the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Angelo Bagnasco, as leader of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).
The announcement was made by the outgoing President at the end of the Mass celebrated on Wednesday, May 24, in the Vatican Basilica. “And now I have the honor and pleasure to communicate that the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Bassetti President of the Italian Episcopal Conference,” said Bagnasco, as reported by SIR (Religious Information Service) agency, which depends on CEI itself.
The appointment, which was confirmed at the end of the morning by a bulletin of the Vatican Press Office, is no surprise. Not only did the Archbishop of Perugia receive the most votes of the short list of three candidates, chosen by the Italian Bishops meeting in General Assembly in the Vatican and then presented to Pope Francis, but as is known the Pontiff has always had great esteem for Bassetti, creating him Cardinal on the occasion of the Consistory of February 22, 2014 — the first of his Pontificate.
Born on April 7, 1942 at Popolano di Marradi, a municipality in the province of Florence on the Roman side of the Appenines, the Cardinal already exceeds the limit of 75 years of age imposed by the Code of Canon Law (Canon 401, paragraph 1), but the Pontiff has extended his tenure as leader of the Umbrian Archdiocese with the formula “donec aliter provideatur”) (“until decided otherwise”).
With the metaphor used by Pope Francis, Cardinal Bassetti can be described as a pastor “with the odor of the sheep.” The Cardinal is noted in fact for his closeness to the people and his sensitivity to the problems connected with the world of work.
Together with the Bishop of the City of Castello, Monsignor Domenico Cancian, in June of 2008 he signed a document in support of workers of the Buitoni di Sansepolcro establishment, which was about to be sold to a new firm, expressing concern “for the social and economic consequences” of such a change of ownership.