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.