Cardinal Zuppi, new president of the Italian Episcopal Conference Cardinal Zuppi, new president of the Italian Episcopal Conference 

Cardinal Zuppi, new president of Italian Bishops' Conference

Pope Francis names Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, new president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, commonly referred to as the CEI.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi has been elected new president of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI).

Pope Francis named the 66-year-old Archbishop of Bologna, who has been long affiliated with the Community of Sant'Egidio, as the new leader of the CEI on Tuesday.

The nomination came shortly after the end of the second session of the 76th General Assembly of the CEI at the Hilton Rome Airport in Fiumicino.

Their meeting takes place on 23-27 May, and is focused on the theme: “Listening to the Narratives of the People of God: The first discernment: What priorities are emerging along the Synodal Journey?”

Cardinal Zuppi succeeds outgoing CEI president, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, 80, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, who read the announcement.

Welcoming his nomination, Cardinal Zuppi thanked the Pope and the bishops.

“Let's walk together to listen to everyone's suffering.”


Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi

The new CEI president was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the 5 October 2019 consistory. His titular church is that of Sant’Egidio in the Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere.

He serves as member of the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

According to his Vatican biography, Matteo Maria Zuppi was born in Rome on 11 October 1955, the fifth of six siblings.

In 1973, as a high school student in Rome, he met Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, and began to frequent the community and to collaborate in its efforts to help the disadvantaged.

These activities, the biography notes, ranged "from popular schools for marginalized children from Roman slums, to initiatives for the elderly who are alone and not self-sufficient, for immigrants and the homeless, for the terminally ill and nomads, the disabled and drug addicts, prisoners and victims of conflicts; its ecumenical activities for Christian unity; and its work in interfaith dialogue, which took shape in the Assisi Meetings."

'Don Matteo' Zuppi
'Don Matteo' Zuppi

At the age of 22, after obtaining a degree in letters and philosophy from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, with a thesis on the history of Christianity, he entered the seminary in the suburbicarian diocese of Palestrina, following the course of preparation for the priesthood at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology.

He was ordained a priest for the clergy of Palestrina on 9 May 1981.

'Don Matteo'

Immediately thereafter, Zuppi was appointed as vicar to the parish priest of the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

In 2000, when the latter was elected as bishop, it was natural for “don Matteo” – as he is still known today – to assume the role, which he subsequently held for ten years. He was incardinated in Rome on 15 November 1988, and was also rector of the church of Santa Croce alla Lungara from 1983 to 2012, and member of the diocesan presbyteral council from 1995 to 2012.

In the second five-year period as parish priest in Trastevere, from 2005 to 2010, he was also prefect of the third prefecture of Rome and from 2000.

Mediation role in Mozambique

From 2000 to 2012, he was general ecclesiastical assistant of the Sant’Egidio Community, after performing a mediation role in Mozambique, with Riccardi, in the process that led to peace after more than seventeen years of bloody civil war.

In the meantime, in 2010 he left the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere to begin his ministry as a parish priest in the parish of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela, one of the most populous communities of the diocese, in the eastern outskirts of the city.

On 31 January 2012, Benedict XVI appointed him as titular bishop of Villanova and auxiliary of Rome.

He received episcopal ordination the following 14 April, from the then-cardinal vicar Agostino Vallini, and selected the motto Gaudium Domini fortitude vestra.

Pope Francis' visit to Bologna

On 27 October 2015, Pope Francis promoted him to the metropolitan see of Bologna, successor of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.

After convening the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, which opened on 13 November 2016, he received the Pope on a visit to the principal city of Emilia Romagna on 1 October 2017. A year later, he participated in the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to young people.

Cardinal Zuppi has written various publications of a pastoral nature.

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24 May 2022, 19:41