Deputy of the Democrazia Cristiana from 1968 to 1994, he was president of the parliamentary group (1979-83), Vice President of the Camera dei Deputati (1987-90) and Minister of Education (July 1990 – March 1991).
Head of the DC group back to the Chamber (1992-94) in January 1994 he joined the Partito Popolare Italiano (PPI). In March 1995 he was elected by the National Council as secretary of the PPI. In January 1997, he left the secretariat of the PPI and was named chairman of the party, a position he held until October 2000. Member of European Parliament, from June 1994 to June 1999; he directed the newspaper “Il Popolo” during August 1995, and from October 1999 to April 2000.
In May 2001 he was re-elected. In 2004 he founded the Movimento per l’Europa, which aimed to give an independent presence, organized by the Catholic Democrats in Italy.
From 2006 to 2008 he was re-elected in the list of the l’Ulivo. Professor of latin, was co-director of the Encyclopedia Horace at the Institute of the Italian Encyclopedia.