In the first true change in the College of Cardinals after one member became the new Holy Father, Severino Cardinal Poletto reached the age of 80 yesterday and thus became unable to vote in a future conclave. There are currently 114 cardinal electors, and 206 cardinals in total.
Severino Poletto was born near Venice and became a priest for the Diocese of Casale Monferrato in 1957. By that time he had already earned a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome. In his first years as a priest, Father Poletto was active in pastoral care and as prefect of discipline and vocations director at the diocesan seminary. In 1965, he was appointed as a parish priest in the town of Casale. He coupled this with a part-time job at a local factory.
In the fifteen years that he worked as a parish priest, Fr. Poletto founded the Diocesan Centre for Family Ministry and coordinated city missions for the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese in 1974.
In 1980, he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of Fossano, on the opposite end of northern Italy, south of Turin. Five months after this appointment, in October of 1980, Bishop Poletto succeed Archbishop Giovanni Dadone upon the latter’s death. For nearly a decade he led the Diocese of Fossano, and was also secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Piedmonte. In 1989, Bishop Poletto was moved to Asti, slightly further north, where he spent another decade. In 1999 followed his appointment as archbishop of Turin.
This appointment came with a cardinal’s hat in 2001. Cardinal Poletto was given the title church of San Giuseppe al Trionfale, which was actually a cardinal deaconry, but elevated for Cardinal Poletto who, as diocesan ordinary, automatically became a cardinal priest. He retired from the see of Turin in 2010.
Cardinal Poletto was a member of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph, which is by “a significant coincidence” also the day on which Pope Francis is inaugurated as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. St. Joseph is patron of the universal Church and, on a far smaller scale, also my own patron. So he can’t go unmentioned on the blog today.
“In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”
Pope Francis, Homily at the Mass for the Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome
Art credit: Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni, ca. 1635
Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. I have special confidence in you. You are powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me, to your intercession. By the love you have for Jesus and Mary, do not abandon me during life, and assist me at the hour of my death.
Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, Foster-father of Jesus Christ, obtain for me a pure, humble, and charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the Divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore: In gratitude for the election of Pope Francis, that he may receive love and charity from both above and below.
Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I am confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.