He is lecturer at Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, and has published over 100 works on biblical, pastoral and theological issues. He has appeared in many television shows concerning religious themes produced by RAI (Italy's national public-service radio and television broadcasting organization).
He was ordained bishop in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope John Paul II.
His Excellency, how would you comment, as bishop of the Church of Rome, the resignation of the Pope?
Many people were shocked by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision. Certainly it has been, on one hand, an act of courage, and on the other hand an important proof of the value of the conscience thanks to which the Pope has been able to take significant decisions in continuous communication with Lord Jesus (and God).
Is the time we are living in more mature to ‘accept’ a choice like this? (I’m referring to the great controversy caused by the resignation of Pope Celestine V. Even the "Father of the Italian language", Dante Alighieri, harshly criticized him in his Divine Comedy).
Regarding the decision of the Pope, it is appropriate to distinguish between the possibility and the opportunity.
As to possibility, it is enough to read Canon Law, 332 §2 ‘Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone’.
As to the historical opportunity, everybody can have their own opinion. Personally, I stick to the justified meditation (reason?) that the Holy Father has express many times since the announcement of his resignation last 11th February.
He has given a sign to all the Church and to all those who are his ‘Ministers of the Lord’ and servants. He is witness and model of freedom: he wanted to be a true servant.
In relation to Celestine V, the historical context is much different, as much as the way to convey one’s thoughts and inform the whole world at the same time.
In your opinion, what mood will characterize the next conclave? What are the priests, the believers, the whole Church expecting?
The next conclave will be marked by the example of Pope Benedict XVI, in addition to his precise will to announce the 28th of February the sede vacante (vacant seat). I am sure that at that moment the cardinals will think of who among them they consider the worthiest and most suitable for the task. And once the conclave will have begun they will be able to talk with each other.
It is difficult to say who the priests and the believers, leaving apart the whole Church, will be expecting. I believe that it is very important to pray for the successor, just like the Pope is already doing. Furthermore, it seems to me important to be welcoming and ready to cooperate (and obedient where believers) with the Pope that will be chosen by the cardinals, whether he will be from Europe or from any other part of the world.
You were ordained bishop by Pope John II. How do you consider the relatively short papacy of Benedict XVI after such a significant figure in human history?
I believe that Pope Benedict XVI was elected when he was already in an old age, and that has been a decisive factor for the length of his papacy.
Actually, Benedict XVI has been pope for four years more than Pope John XXIII. Besides, the history of the Church witness a length of service very different from one Pope to another. It is normal that the cardinals will consider to elect a Pope whose age is around 60. However, other factors will play an vital role in the election, such as God’s will and the good and responsible liberty of the electors. I am, before both of them, trustful as many other brothers and sisters.