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Pope names new cardinal to powerful Milan diocese

Pope John Paul nominated a new cardinal yesterday to oversee the powerful Milan archdiocese, making him the leading Italian candidate to succeed the Pope.

The Vatican said in a statement that 68 year old Dionigi Tettamanzi would replace Carlo Maria Martini as cardinal of Milan -- one of the largest Catholic archdiocese in the world with some five million faithful and 1000 parishes.

Tettamanzi is currently cardinal in the northern city of Genoa and it is the first time in recent history that a Pope has transferred a cardinal from one Italian diocese to another.

The unusual move represents a promotion and has marked Tettamanzi out as a favourite of Pope John Paul, strengthening his position as a possible future head of the Catholic Church.

Tettamanzi, who was criticised last year by some politicians for backing anti-globalisation protesters at a G8 summit of world leaders in Genoa, is viewed in the Vatican as a moderate who could mediate between liberals and conservatives.

"This is a nomination which might open the door to the papacy," La Stampa newspaper said on Thursday, anticipating the news of his appointment to Italy's richest diocese. "Tettamanzi is in pole position among the Italian candidates to take on the future heavy inheritance of John Paul II."

The current cardinal of Milan, Martini, was seen as the number one choice of liberal Catholics to take over the papacy, before age and illness dimmed his chances.

Diocesi di Milano
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi (biography in Italian) - or translated


12 Jul 2002