|President of the Pontifical Council for Culture|
Cardinal Ravasi in 2012
|Appointed||3 September 2007|
28 June 1966|
by Giovanni Umberto Colombo
29 September 2007|
by Pope Benedict XVI
20 November 2010|
by Benedict XVI
|Birth name||Gianfranco Ravasi|
18 October 1942|
Merate, Province of Lecco, Italy
Praedica Verbum (Preach the Word) |
— 2 Timothy 4:2
|Coat of arms|
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Gianfranco Ravasi (born 18 October 1942) is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. A cardinal since 2010, he has been President of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 3 September 2007. He headed Milan's Ambrosian Library from 1989 to 2007.
The oldest of three children, Ravasi was born in Merate, Province of Lecco. His father was an anti-fascist tax official who served in Sicily during World War II, but later deserted the army; it took him 18 months to return to his family. Ravasi later said: "My search has always been for something permanent, for what is behind the transitory, the contingent. I'm fighting loss and death, which probably relates to the absence of my father in my first years." His mother was a schoolteacher.
Ravasi planned on a career teaching Greek and Latin classics before decided to join the priesthood. He attended the seminary of Milan and was ordained by Cardinal Giovanni Colombo on 28 June 1966. He studied in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He spent summers in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, working as an archaeologist with such figures as Kathleen Kenyon and Roland de Vaux.
He later served as a professor of exegesis of the Old Testament at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy in Milan. From 1989 to 2007, he was prefect of the Ambrosian Library, where he became a well-known figure in literary and academic circles while also giving popular lectures on religious subjects.
On 3 September 2007, Ravasi was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and assigned the titular see of Villamagna in Proconsulari. He was also named President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church[a] and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology. Pope Benedict XVI consecrated him a bishop on 29 September, with Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone and Marian Jaworski as co-consecrators.
Ravasi was admitted to the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George by Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria in 2006 and promoted to Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice following his elevation to the College of Cardinals, in 2010.
On 11 December 2010, Ravasi was named a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a five-year renewable term. On 29 December 2010, he was appointed a member of the new Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation and also a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
He organized the Vatican participation in the Venice Biennale in May 2013. Instead of restricting itself to religious art, it asked artists to produce works on the theme "Creation, De-Creation and Re-Creation" in order to "create an atmosphere of dialogue between art and faith". Artists included Studio Azzurro, a Milan-based art collective that produces interactive videos, Czech photographer Josef Koudelka, and abstract painter Lawrence Carroll.
As president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, in November 2013 he announced the opening of visits, including virtual visits, to the newly excavated Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.
He was appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in October 2016.
In March 2017, he announced the creation of a Feminine Consultation within he Pontifical Council for Culture, with 37 women chosen from a mix of nationalities, religions, professions, political views, and marital status. He said: "the function of these women is a real function, they are called to express judgments; they have already criticized me on some proposals and have put forward others! For instance, in connection with the forthcoming Plenary Assembly of the dicastery, on neuroscience, artificial intelligence, genetics, robotics, information technology, etc. on all these issues these women have expressed–as scientists and as women–judgments that we would be unable to formulate."
- Dialogue with non-believers
Ravasi has developed Pope Benedict XVI's vision of an international forum that fosters dialogue between Christian believers and agnostics or atheists. He "wanted to reintroduce the ancient tradition of the 'disputed questions' – as they were called then – while at that time they had to do with different opinions and theses, in this case they will be between believers and nonbelievers." He added "I am trying to see to it that this danger is avoided". He stated that "I want really fundamental questions to be asked – questions of anthropology, then good and evil, life and afterlife, love suffering, the meaning of evil – questions that are substantially at the basis of human existence."
In November 2011 Cardinal Ravasi said preaching in churches had become formulaic and boring that it risked becoming "irrelevant". He said that "The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour," He added that "We need to remember that communicating faith doesn't just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140 characters of a Twitter message."
- Contemporary culture
Ravasi sprinkles his speeches and communications with references to secular culture. Via his Twitter account he has shared, as well as prayers and Bible passages, observations on life and faith from Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Buddha, Camus, Mark Twain and others. He announced his departure for the U.S. saying: "Departing for the land of Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, Melville, Twain, Hemingway, Kerouac, F. O’Connor, Salinger, Roth, Bellow, Updike." In 2013 and 2016 he commemorated the deaths of musical artists Lou Reed and David Bowie, quoting "Perfect Day" and "Space Oddity", respectively.
In 2008, he said, "I want to affirm, as an a priori, the compatibility of the theory of evolution with the message of the Bible and the Church's theology." He also noted that neither Charles Darwin nor his work On the Origin of Species had ever been condemned by the Church.
- This commission was merged into the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2012.
- O'Grady, Desmond (16 May 2008). "The Vatican's culture maven". National Catholic Reporter. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011.
- "Ravasi lascia Milano: 'ho la città nel cuore'". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 4 September 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Allen, Jr., John (2 May 2008). "Interview with Ambassador Glendon; A possible papabile". National Catholic Reporter.
- Benedict XVI (30 July 2012). "Apostolic Letter Pulchritudinis fidei". Pontifical Council for Culture. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- "Assegnazione dei Titoli o delle Diaconie ai Nuovi Cardinali" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 11.12.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Vatican Press Office. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 29.12.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Vatican Press Office. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Lancho Garcia, Rocío (26 February 2013). "Cardinal Ravasi Led Pope, Curia on Pilgrimage in Search of God's Face". Zenit. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Donadio, Rachel (14 May 2013). "New Entrant to Venice Biennale: the Vatican". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta (19 November 2013). "Vatican Unveils Revamped Catacombs Museum". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 28.10.2016" (Press release) (in Italian). Vatican Press Office. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Lubov, Deborah Casetellano (9 March 2017). "Interview: Cardinal Ravasi: 'Finally a Feminine Voice in the Roman Curia'". Zenit. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Lubov, Deborah Casetellano (7 March 2017). "Presentation of 'Revolutionary' Vatican's Women's Consultation Group". Zenit. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Pentin, Edward (May 17, 2010). "Courtyard of the Gentiles". National Catholic Register. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- "Cardinal Ravasi Urges Dialogue With Nonbelievers". Zenit. 13 February 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Allen Jr., John L. (11 September 2012). "Is Ravasi 'the most interesting man in the church'?". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Squires, Nick (6 November 2011). "Catholic priests urged to liven up sermons". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Gianfranco Ravasi Verified account @CardRavasi_en, Twitter Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- "Vatican leads tributes to Lou Reed". The Telegraph. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Vatican culture official pays tribute to David Bowie". Catholic Herald. January 11, 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Allen Jr., John L. (18 September 2008). "Genesis isn't a science book: Vatican to study evolution; Benedict's trip to France; and Pius XII". National Catholic Reporter. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010.
- "Ravasi Card. Gianfranco". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
|Catholic Church titles|
| President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
| President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church|
| President of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology|