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Diogini Tettamanzi of Italy

Cautionary Voice on Globalization

Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page A40


Cardinal Diogini Tettamanzi rocketed to the head of the list of Italian papabili, or potential popes, in 2002 when he was named archbishop of Milan, Italy's largest diocese. At 70, he would be the right age for a not-too-short, not-too-long papacy that some commentators think is a criterion that will guide the voting.

He represents continuity with many of the policies of Pope John Paul II, having helped write several encyclicals during the late pope's reign. As former secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference, he would be in good stead with the Italian bloc of voters. As a cautionary voice on dangers of globalization, he might attract Third World electors.

Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi
Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italo Banchero - AP)

He has favored centralization of decision-making in the church. At a 1999 synod, he opposed a proposal by his predecessor in Milan, Archbishop Carlo Maria Martini, for "collegial" policymaking among European bishops. Martini's appeal "found no acceptance at all," Tettamanzi said.

He has taken a tough line against what he terms "homosexual culture." In one article, he wrote that the church was called "together with every person of good will, to denounce the very grave personal and social risks connected with accepting such a culture." He also supports excommunication for "procured abortion."

In 2001, Tettamanzi published "Globalization: A Challenge," a book warning that profit must not be the overriding goal of the world economy. Globalization ought to serve common people and fulfill their right to work, he said. He has described as "positive" the anti-globalization movement that coalesced at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle in 1999.

Violence at a 2001 meeting of the Group of Eight industrial powers, in what was then his home diocese, Genoa, was widely thought in church circles here to have derailed his rise to prominence among candidates, but the rioting did not stand in the way of his move to Milan.

He shares John Paul's conviction that Catholics must buck the West's consumerist, material culture and "the belief that a destiny beyond the earth for human life does not exist."

He also takes a view fashionable among European prelates that Catholicism is being marginalized by the dominant secular society. The answer, he has said, is to fight back or "risk being mocked and rejected by the contemporary world, especially on the European continent."

-- Daniel Williams

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