Pope Francis, in surprise appointment, chooses a Franciscan as archbishop of Genoa, Italy

in April 2017. The Rev. Marco Tasca, who was just appointed archbishop of Genoa on May 8, is second from the right. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano) Pope Francis poses with the superiors of the four main men’s branches of the Franciscan family during a meeting at the Vatican in April 2017. The Rev. Marco Tasca, who was just appointed archbishop of Genoa on May 8, is second from the right. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano) 

In yet another surprise appointment, Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Marco Tasca, 62, a member of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual and former minister general of that order for 12 years, as the new archbishop of Genoa, in northwest Italy.

The Vatican announced the appointment on May 8. He succeeds Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, 77, former president of the Italian Bishops Conference (2007-2017), whose resignation the pope accepted today. The cardinal has been president of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe since 2016 and will continue in that role.

Advertisement

The Rev. Marco Tasca, 62, a member of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual, was minister general of that order for 12 years.

“I am a friar and I remain a friar,” the new archbishop elect told his fellow Franciscans when his appointment was announced at the friary in Padova yesterday. His fellow Franciscans responded with prolonged applause. He is the second Franciscan to become archbishop of Genoa; the first was 700 years ago when Porchetto Spinola served as head of the diocese from 1299-1321.

The archbishop-elect greeted his new diocese, which includes 674,000 faithful and 278 priests, with the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “May the Lord give you peace.” He promised to be “a father and a brother” to the people of Genoa, and said he comes to his new diocese “with a heart always open to listening and to welcoming all those who knock at my door, including—and I wish to say, especially—those who, for whatever reason, have found themselves or feel far from our ecclesial community.”

Born in Sant’Angelo di Piove di Sacco, a comune in the Province of Padua in the Italian region Veneto, on June 6, 1957, Father Tasca entered the order of Friar Minors Conventuals at the age of 11 and, after completing his studies and novitiate, he took his final vows in the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in 1981. After studying philosophy and theology, he was ordained priest in 1983, and then went on to study and gain a degree in psychology and pastoral ministry at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome in 1988.

“I am a friar and I remain a friar,” the new archbishop elect told his fellow Franciscans.

In the following years he worked in a parish and then served as rector of the Franciscan minor and later junior seminaries in Padua, where he also taught. After serving as minister provincial of the province of St. Anthony of Padua from 2005-2007, he was elected as minister general of the order and 119th successor of St. Francis of Assisi in May 2007 and re-elected for a second six-year term in January 2013.

He was elected as one of ten members of the Union of Superiors General to participate in three different synods of bishops: on the new Evangelization (2012), on the family (2015) and on youth (2018)

Pope Francis got to know him during those last two synods, and also as minister general of his order, but his decision to appoint him to the important see of Genoa surprised many in the Italian church. “No one would have imagined this choice,” a close observer of the Italian church, who welcomed the nomination but requested anonymity because of the role he holds, told America.

At the same time, it is worth recalling that the first Latin-American pope has a personal attachment to Genoa and knows the archdiocese. He visited the city in May 2017 and, speaking to the workers, recalled “with emotion” that his father had departed from this seaport for Buenos Aires in the early 1900s.

Genoa is one of the more than 220 dioceses in Italy, and since his election as pope in 2013 Francis has appointed more than half of the bishops to these sees. In the cases of Bologna, Palermo, Rome, Milan and now Genoa, he has gone out of his way to choose men of prayer, men of dialogue and openness to people, not princes, culture warriors or ideologues.

Significantly, the pope has broken with the tradition that the appointment of a person to be bishop in some dioceses (including Genoa and Venice, for example) automatically meant he would become a cardinal. This no longer holds. Indeed, he has sought to reduce the number of Italian cardinals because they were over-represented in past conclaves.

So it is by no means automatic that the new-archbishop elect will be made cardinal. If Francis were to give the archbishop a red hat, it would be because he considers the man is particularly worthy, and not because of the see over which he presides, as was the case at the last consistory when he made Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna a cardinal.

Correction, May 9: The Rev. Marco Tasca was minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual, not the master general.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

Advertisement
More: Vatican / Europe

The latest from america

“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus told her. Yet she is not repelled by his parable. She engages it.
Terrance KleinAugust 12, 2020
Catholic composer David Haas is shown in a concert at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines, in this 2016 photo. (CNS photo/Titopao, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Mr. Haas has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations “false, reckless and offensive.”
During Jerusalem’s lockdown, my family saw the Holy Land—and each other—with new eyes.
Stephanie SaldañaAugust 12, 2020
In this June 27, 2019, file photo, then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens to questions after the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Few, if any, vice presidential candidates have had as much exposure to the world’s religions as Kamala Harris.