Bishop Francesco Moraglia was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the important post of Patriarch of Venice on Jan. 31. Despite the enormity of the job, he trusts God will help him succeed.
Bishop Moraglia, 59, told Vatican Radio that when the Pope asked him to move to Venice his “mood at the time was one of trepidation.”
But that quickly changed after he “went to the chapel and talked to the Lord in the tabernacle, saying, ‘In the end you are there, and so I trust in you.’”
During the 20th century, three former Patriarchs of Venice have gone on to occupy the papacy – Pope Pius X, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul I.
The new patriarch hails from Genoa, Italy and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. Since being ordained he has taught dogmatic theology at various Catholic institutions in northwestern Italy. He has also served as an assistant pastor in a Genoese parish. He was ordained as Bishop of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato in 2008.
The veteran Italian religious commentator Sandro Magister describes Bishop Moraglia as “without a shadow of a doubt a ‘Ratzingerian’ in both theology and liturgy.” He also calls him a “man of culture,” who is also keen to advocate the plight of the most vulnerable in society including, at present, those families facing economic difficulties.
Bishop Moraglia said the unemployment data in Italy alone makes him “shudder” because “we are talking about a 30 per cent of young people between 14 and 25 who have no work.” That, in turn, creates serious insecurity for young people as they contemplate the future, he said.
Bishop Moraglia sees his role as primarily to “love his people” and to “make people understand that there is this feeling of love, of nearness: standing in their midst.” After that, he said, a bishop must speak and give directions to his people while never losing sight of the fact that he is one of them.
During his four years as head of the La Spezia diocese, Bishop Moraglia has presided over a rise in seminary numbers and championed devotional practices like perpetual Eucharistic adoration.
He is now looking forward to shepherding the Archdiocese of Venice during the Year of Faith which begins October 2012.
His “deepest hope” is to be “in the midst of the people,” whom he seeks to serve. He said he does not want to be their “master of the faith” but rather a “collaborator in the joy of these people.”
The Patriarchate of Venice includes the Archdiocese of Venice along with nine suffragan dioceses. The patriarch’s cathedral is St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
Bishop Moraglia succeeds Cardinal Angelo Scola who became Archbishop of Milan last year after nine years as Venice’s patriarch.