Born on 14 February 1943, he grew up in Genoa after the War and studied there for the priesthood.
He was ordained on 29 June 1966 by Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa and held various pastoral and teaching positions.
He was elected Bishop of Pesaro by Pope John Paul II on 3 January 1998 and consecrated on 7 February 1988 by Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Genoa. The diocese was made a Metropolitan Archdiocese on 11 March 2000, and he was raised to the state of Archbishop. He was named Military Ordinary for Italy on 20 June 2003.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Genoa on 29 August 2006 and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference on 7 March 2007.
He was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2007.