Cardinal watch: Cardinal Poletto turns 80

DSC_0192Cardinale%20Severino%20PolettoIn 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.

Cardinal watch: Cardinal Cheli passes away

cheli_g_cpf_2Called a “zealous pastor” by Pope Benedict XVI, Giovanni Cardinal Cheli swapped the temporal for the eternal last night, after 94 years of life spent for the most part in service to “the Gospel and to the Church”. The College of Cardinals, of which Cardinal Cheli was a non-voting member, now number 209, with 118 of them electors.

Giovanni Cheli was born in Turin and was ordained for the Diocese of Asti in 1942, after obtaining a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University. In Asti, he worked as chaplain to the youth section of Catholic Action, and also taught at the diocesan seminary. In 1952, after a time working in Rome and earning a licentiate in theology, Fr. Cheli entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1952.

His first posting was in Guatemala, followed by Spain and Italy. In Madrid, he performed pastoral work in addition to his duties in the nunciature. In 1967, Fr. Cheli was assigned to the Council for Public Affairs of the Church. In 1973, he became permanent observer to the United Nations, an assignment which was confirmed again in 1976. In 1978, he was once of the few bishops consecrated by Pope John Paul I. Archbishop was renowned as an expert on the Church’s issues in relations with the Communist nations.

Archbishop Cheli was appointed as Pro-President of the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which would became a pontifical council in 1988, still under the leadership of Archbishop Cheli.

Shortly before his retirement in 1998, Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal, with the deaconry of Santi Cosma e Damiano. Ten years later, Cardinal Cheli became a cardinal priest with the same title church.

Outspokenly critical on many issues, Cardinal Cheli protested the US invasion of Iraq in 2001, the age limits for cardinals and some of the curial appointments of Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Cheli was among the five oldest cardinals of the Church.