Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice as the new archbishop of the influential Archdiocese of Milan on June 28.
“I welcomed this decision of the Pope, because it is the Pope,” said the 70-year-old native of Milan to the Italian news agency ANSA.
The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Milan is the most populous in Italy and one of the most influential in the Catholic Church. In the 2oth century two holders of the office have gone onto the papacy – Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI.
Cardinal Scola’s appointment was significant enough that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano sent him a congratulatory telegram. “I am sure that the work of Your Eminence will be a source of inspiration for the search for the common good, in a spirit of harmony and solidarity,” the president said.
“Thanks to your recognized qualities of sensitivity and openness to dialogue , you will be able to continue the fruitful work in Milan which you started in Venice,” he added.
Cardinal Scola has been Patriarch of Venice since 2002. Before that he was rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. During that time he worked closely with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Scola will take over in Milan from 77-year-old Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is retiring.
The Governor of the Veneto region – which includes Venice – said the departure of Cardinal Scola would leave a “void” in the lives of the people there. Governor Luca Zaia told ANSA that Venice was losing “a loving father figure” and “a keen intellect.”
The Archdiocese of Milan was founded by Saint Barnabus in the 1st century and was led by Saint Ambrose in the 4th century. The distinctive Ambrosian rite of Mass is still celebrated throughout the diocese. Being a metropolitan see, it also has jurisdiction over nine other dioceses in the north of Italy.