Novena has been profiling some of the new cardinals announced by Pope Francis last September 1, by means of a few of our favourite quotes from these men.

First, it was the turn of Jean-Claude Höllerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union.

Second, we looked at some of the wisdom of Miguel Ángel Ayuso, the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in the Vatican.

Today, we’re looking at some words from Matteo Zuppi, the Archbishop of Bologna.

1. Who is Matteo Zuppi?

A poor Christian, who seeks to be a Christian, who found in the Gospel, in the Church the answer to many questions that were troubling him and still trouble him, and who tries to help others as best he can by following the teachings of someone who educates us. not makes us happy.

2. On the virtues a good priest should have

To pray, to listen, to read in depth the Gospel, and then the closeness to people, what Pope Francis calls closeness in both directions, because closeness also allows the other to come closer: I am close to you, and you are close to me.

It is not possible to be a priest by staying away. He must know how to listen to the other, and the other must have the chance to show what he has.

3. On the “ideal Church”

[My ideal Church] is this one. A Church that knows how to touch the hearts of men in many ways, that knows how to recognize the presence of God in the lives of men, who with the large-heartedness and motherhood of Our Lady, the Mother of Mercy, can include everyone.

Sometimes we become small, we lose the large-heartedness of motherhood. We must keep it, know how to wait; it is an act of trust, it is very different from laissez-faire. Motherhood is not laissez-faire, but it is also knowing how to wait.

4. On scandals in the Church: the exclusion of divorced and remarried and LGBTQI+ Catholics, the abuse crisis…

Certainly they are all wounds, some very deep, which in some cases we ignore because we don’t realise they’re there, sometimes we pretend not to see, sometimes we do not know how to cope, and prudently just try to limit the damage.

The attitude to which Pope Francis invites us is to call things by their name, not to be afraid of anything, and to believe that the way of truth is one that allows the wound to be tended to and the remedy to be found.

5. “The Church must pay more attention to the feminine genius”

The role of women in the Church was never marginal, although she had to face many difficulties, even suffering a certain kind of mentality. The Church is also confronted with the culture of the people it consists of.

Certainly, we should pay more attention to and believe more and more in the feminine genius. To use an expression of John Paul II, woman is fundamental. Without it, the Church would be lame.

6. On the mission of Pope Francis

Francis today helps us to live the presence of the prophetic Church, pointing us to priorities when he speaks of the poor, when he insists on evangelisation, on the joy of the Gospel, specifying: “I do not say everything.”

There is no need to talk about everything. When the Church wants to say everything, it risks saying nothing. In the past, this has happened a few times.

7. Christians on the streets, and the Church

The priest, the Christian can not sit in a club. Our Lord did not set up a more or less fashionable club or salon. A priest must reject the salon and, for all that he represents, must live in the street. […]

We must listen to the Gospel, which compels everyone to stand on the street, where our weaker, younger brothers need help. It is for our mercy that we will be judged.


[The idea of a “poor Church”] means helping the Church to be itself.

The Church inherits many goods. Here’s an example involving the diocese of Bologna. My predecessor inherited from its owner, through a will, a factory, FAAC, a multinational that produces automatic gates. We must manage it carefully.

If we are poor, we can do it well, if we don’t get into the persuasive logic of money, with all that involves, we can manage it well. Otherwise, everything becomes much more complicated.

All FAAC’s profits go to charity. We have rules that keep us safe from any use of profits within the diocese.

8. On migrants in the Mediterranean

When they land, you have to help them, you can’t leave them in the middle of the sea. There has to be a broader policy. I’m not resigned to what is happening, I must remain human and find intelligent answers that avoid the problem.

Unfortunately, the fear and temptation to close ourselves off creates a false hope. Those who talk about building walls don’t do any favours for the safety of those on this side.

We are facing an epocal problem that must be faced by all of us together, with intelligence and respect for human life.

(Quotes 1-8 from a 2017 interview with Loris Mazzetti in Il Fatto Quotidiano)

Next on Novena:

Archbishop of Bologna warns against “dangerous” populism in midst of Italian political crisis


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.