Pope Francis has appointed an Italian cleric, known as the “Bergoglio of Italy” as the new Archbishop of Bologna.
Archbishop-elect Matteo Maria Zuppi, renowned for his commitment to interfaith dialogue, ecumenism and conflict resolution will head one of Italy’s most important archdioceses.
Bishop Zuppi, who is closely associated with the Community of St Egidio, played a key role in bringing Mozambique’s civil war to an end in 1992.
Pope Francis has also appointed 53-year-old Fr Corrado Lorefice, who is also renowned fro his commitment to social activism along with opposing the Mafia, Archbishop of Palermo.
In an article for CruxNow.com, Vatican commentator John Allen said that the new Archbishop-elect of Palermo was renowned for “his efforts on behalf of the victims of prostitution and human trafficking, and his writings on the Church’s ‘option for the poor.’”
Allen also noted that Lorefice was a teacher of moral theology who had “written approvingly of the late Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna, who was seen as a progressive leader during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).”
But Allen added that “from a political point of view, the transition in Bologna is especially striking” given that Bishop Zuppi is replacing Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, “a longtime champion of the Church’s conservative wing and a leading opponent of an opening for the divorced and remarried.”
He added: “Both Bologna and Palermo have traditionally been dioceses whose leaders automatically become cardinals. Pope Francis, however, appears to prefer to lift up new cardinals from traditionally neglected areas, so there’s no guarantee that either Zuppi or Lorefice will necessarily be inducted into the College of Cardinals.”