Cardinal Bagnasco: The Preserver
He was regarded a low profile pastor, but as chairman of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Bagnasco developed a pro-active role as strict preserver of the “non-negotiable values”.
The family, based on the marriage solely between a man and a woman. is part of these “non-negotiable” principles. It is strange, when the way towards a developed Europe requires the denial of human values, said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, in January 2013.
With his attitudes, the 70-year-old Cardinal attracted a lot of attention in recent years, while Vatican experts assume, that he only was appointed chairman of the powerful Italian Bishops’ Conference in March 2007, due to his lack of profile. Supposedly he get roped into the power struggle between his predecessor, Cardinal Camillo Ruini and the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. At one level, the contest was between moderates, who wanted Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, and conservatives, who wanted someone like Cardinal Angelo Scola (then of Venice, now in Milan) or perhaps Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna. The bottom line is that Bagnasco was thrust into the spotlight largely because he profiled as someone who wouldn’t do much with it. Over the last six years, however, something unexpected happened: He grew into the role.
Controversial “Media Star”
Few other cardinal is in the Italian media as present as Angelo Bagnasco. Via the media, he globaly denounced the farewell to the European system of values. A false sense of freedom and self-fulfillment is the base for the declining number of marriages as well as for the demand of same-sex marriages, explains Bagnasco, who is also the Archbishop of Genoa.
In this context, the Cardinal also criticized a decision of the Supreme Court in Rome, regarding the adoption rights for homosexuals. “The right of the child, the right to a child who comes before each individual request,” Bagnasco said. The traditional concept of the family should not be weakened by ideologies that are inimical to the family”.
Speaks up against politics
But also towards politics and especially Silvio Berlusconi, Angelo Bagnasco does not mince words. “Obscene behavior is negative in itself and causes social damage, apart from whether it gets publicly known or not,” so Bagnasco. “It poisons the air and makes the common path difficult. You have to clean the air so that the younger generations will not be poisoned.”
In July 2009, he called for Prime Minister Berlusconi publicly because of his way of life to resign. He warned against “men drowned in a delirium of their own greatness, who leave behind the illusion of omnipotence and pervert moral values”. Before the current Italian parliamentary elections, Bagnasco has publicly indicated sympathy for Premier Mario Monti, and argued in favor of a continuation of his reform course.
Euthanasia is another issue on which Bagnasco is unwilling to compromise and strictly holds a view against euthanasia. But his points of view don’t remain unchallenged. Time and again he has to confront criticism. Especially liberal Italian media violently critizies him, mostly because of his comparisons. For instance, he compared the recognition of same-sex union, with the permission of incest and pedophilia. Bagnasco polarizes. Even anonymous death threats were made against him, since thenthe Cardinal is under police protection.
Bagnasco was born in 1943 in Pontevico near Brescia. He is the second child of the industrial worker Alfredo Bagnasco and his wife Rosa. But after the relocation the family he grew up but in Genoa, where he became a student of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, known as the “Conservative Lion”. As a young priest, Bagnasco studied metaphysics and “contemporary Atheism” at the University of Genoa.
But Bagnasco did not just sit in his study, but worked as a chaplain and spiritual director for the students. Many people got to know him as a very “spiritual” priest. In 1998, he received his episcopal consecration by Pope John Paul II., shortly after he was appointed the military Bishop of Italy. Since 2008 he is member of various committees and congregations of the Roman Curia, such as the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments.
One may probably not expect that Angelo Bagnasco would breathe new life into the office of the Pope. But who knows, the once inconspicuous Cardinal already surprised us with his unexpected advocacy of traditional values.
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