Born in Macerata Feltria, Italy, on February 3, 1938.
He was ordained a Priest on March 18, 1962 for Pesaro, Italy. On July 27, 1985 he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Aeclanum, as well as Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. He was ordained Bishop on October 6, 1985.
A few years later, on October 21, 1989, he was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Sénégal, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Mali. In December 1994, he was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Sénégal, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Mali.
Three years later, on October 2, 1997 he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon and Kuwait.
On December 13, 1999 he resigned as Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, and was appointed as Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on April 11, 2001.
On February 28, 2009 he was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, a position which he ceased on February 28, 2013 upon the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.
On February 18, 2012 he was appointed Cardinal-Deacon of San Cesareo in Palatio and elevated to Cardinal. He was installed on June 10, 2012.