Rector Major from 1977 to 1995
He was a native of Lombardy, but deeply rooted in Latin American culture due to his long stay in Chile (1939-1971). Strengthened by significant cultural traditions and a good school of theology (in which he also became a lecturer), he took part in the Second Vatican Council as an expert, bringing to it his scientific rigor and the pastoral and educational experiences he had had overseas. As superior general of an important religious institution and of many other related "associations" he was especially attentive to the problems of the world and the Third World.
He systematically shared the 'Bread' of the Council with his confreres through detailed "letters" formulated as suggestions for life (in the Church and for the Church with the charism of Don Bosco).
He continued to update hiumself by taking part in the most significant ecclesial assemblies, from Medellin to Puebla to Rome in various Synods, and as president of the Union of Superiors General (USG). Pope John Paul II appointed him, along with two other Superiors General (one a Benedictine and the other a Jesuit) as a member of the Extraordinary Synod held for 20th anniversary of the Council.
Because of these and other noteworthy experiences and merits, Fr E. Viganò's time as Rector Major stressed the "sentire cum ecclesia" within the Salesian family and fidelity to the Pope that were so characteristic and essential for Don Bosco, while continuing in ecclesiastical terms, the updating of the "fidelity" to which the Salesian Family was called as the Year 2000 approached.
The Pope appointed him Consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
He was also a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the preparatory session of the Synod of Bishops for Europe and the Permanent Interdepartmental Commission for a more equitable distribution of the clergy.
For two years he was also president of the Union of Superiors General (USG).
As a member appointed by the pope he took part in the 6 Synods of Bishops held in Rome from 1980 to 1994, at special meetings in the Vatican in 1981-1982 with cardinals, bishops and superiors general to consider the problems of Central America. in 1983 he took part in the dialogues of the superiors general with the Pope on the problems and perspectives of religious life in the Church and in 1986 he was invited to preach the Retreat to the Pope and the Roman Curia.
He gave a special contribution to the Synod on Consecrated Life. His final months were spent suffering from cancer.
Fr Viganò will also be remembered as a respected author of numerous theological and spiritual publications.