Action Alert!
Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

The Chosen

by Inside the Vatican Staff


Inside the Vatican provides biological sketches of the 23 new cardinals chosen by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17 and installed in Rome during ceremonies held on November 24 and 25.

Larger Work

Inside the Vatican


12 – 17

Publisher & Date

Urbi et Orbi Communications, New Hope, KY, November 2007

On October 17, Pope Benedict XVI announced the names of 23 new cardinals, who will be created at a consistory in Rome on November 24 and 25. Here are brief biographical sketches of the 23 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict.

1. Leonardo Sandri

Cardinal-designate Leonardo Sandri, who will turn 64 November 18, was recently named prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches in June, after a long career as a Vatican diplomat and official in the Vatican secretariat of state.

His last position, formally the "substitute secretary for general affairs," involved being in charge of day-to-day operations. In the last days of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, when the Pope no longer had the stamina to read his own speeches, Cardinal-designate Sandri became the voice of the Pope.

Born November 18, 1943, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent, he was ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 1967. After earning a degree in canon law, he entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1974 and served at the Vatican embassy in Madagascar. From 1977 to 1989, he worked at the secretariat of state. He was assigned to the nunciature in the United States, 1989-91, then returned to the Vatican for six years. In 1997 he was named an archbishop and nuncio to Venezuela. In March 2000, he was named nuncio to Mexico and six months later was called back to the secretariat of state to take up the position overseeing the Vatican's general affairs.

2. John P. Foley

Cardinal-designate John P. Foley, who will turn 72 November 11, became pro-grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in late June. He had been president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for more than 23 years.

A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the New York's Columbia University journalism school, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1962. Between stints in the 1960s as assistant editor of Philadelphia's archdiocesan paper, The Catholic Standard & Times, he studied in Rome, where he covered the Second Vatican Council from 1963 to 1965.

In 1970, he was appointed editor of The Catholic Standard & Times and was still running the newspaper in 1984 when Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and head of the Vatican office for social communications.

As grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Cardinal-designate Foley assists knights from around the world in fulfilling their commitment to the chivalric organization, which is dedicated to supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and to responding to the needs of Catholics in the Holy Land.

3. Giovanni Lajolo

Italian Cardinal-designate Giovanni Lajolo, 72, is president of the commission governing Vatican City State. He served as the Vatican's foreign minister from 2003 to 2006, when Pope Benedict XVI named him to his current position.

He was born in Novara, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1960. After earning a degree in canon law, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1970, serving at the Vatican nunciature in Germany and in the secretariat of state.

In 1988, he was named an archbishop and secretary to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, the office that oversees Vatican investments and other financial matters.

He served in that office until being named Vatican nuncio to Germany in December 1995.

4. Paul Cordes

German Cardinal-designate Paul Cordes, 73, is president of the pontifical council Cor Unum, the Vatican agency responsible for promoting and coordinating Catholic charitable activity.

Born in Kirchhundem, he briefly studied medicine before entering the seminary. He was ordained a priest for the archdiocese of Paderborn in 1961, did his doctoral studies on the ministerial priesthood at the University of Mainz, and was named an auxiliary bishop of Paderborn by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

Pope John Paul II called him to the Vatican in 1980 to serve as vice-president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a position he held for 15 years. In 1995, he was named an archbishop and president of Cor Unum.

In addition to encouraging Catholic giving and working with Catholic charities to solidify their specifically Catholic identity, Cardinal-designate Cordes has spent the last 12 years traveling to disaster areas and war-torn regions around the world, bearing pledges of prayers and encouragement from Popes as well as financial assistance.

5. Angelo Comastri

Italian Cardinal-designate Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and papal vicar for Vatican City, is 64 years old.

Born in Sorano, Italy, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1967. In 1990, he was named bishop of Massa Marittima and Piombino, where he served for four years. In 1994, he was named director of the Italian bishops' National Vocations Center and president of the national bishops' committee preparing for the celebration of Holy Year 2000.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and pontifical delegate overseeing the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto. In February 2005, he was named president of the office responsible for the upkeep of St. Peter's Basilica, and coadjutor archpriest and coadjutor papal vicar for Vatican City. He succeeded Cardinal Francesco Marchisano in 2006.

6. Stanislaw Rylko

Polish Cardinal-designate Stanislaw Rylko is the 62-year-old president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Born in Andrychow, Poland, in 1945, he was ordained a priest of the Krakow Archdiocese in 1969 by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. He served as professor of pastoral theology at the Krakow Theological Academy.

In 1988, he was named head of the youth section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a position that included planning the celebrations for World Youth Day. Later, he served as an official of the Vatican secretariat of state, before Pope John Paul named him secretary of the laity council in late 1995. He was ordained a bishop in 1996 and was promoted to archbishop in 2003, when he was named president of the laity council.

7. Raffaele Farina

Italian Cardinal-designate Raffaele Farina, the Salesian who was named archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church in late June, celebrated his 74th birthday September 24.

He had been prefect of the Vatican Library for 10 years before his June appointment as head of both the library and the Vatican secret archives.

Born in Buonalbergo, Italy, he entered the Salesians at the age of 16. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1958. Seven years later, he earned his doctorate in church history at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He worked as a professor at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome for several years before becoming dean of the theology faculty and serving two terms — 1977-1983 and 1992-1997 — as rector of the university. In between, he served as undersecretary to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He was named prefect of the Vatican Library in 1997 and was named a bishop by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.

8. Agustin Garcia-Gasco Vicente

Spanish Cardinal-designate Agustin Garcia-Gasco Vicente of Valencia, 76, served as an auxiliary bishop of Madrid for seven years before he was appointed archbishop of Valencia in 1992.

He had served as secretary-general of the Spanish bishops' conference and a bishop-delegate of Caritas, the Catholic Church's aid organization. He has criticized Spain's moves to enact so-called "express divorce" laws, saying the state had no right to "demolish marriage from within."

The cardinal-designate also founded a distance-learning institute of theology.

He was born in Corral de Almaguer in 1931 and was ordained a priest in 1956.

9. Sean Brady

Cardinal-designate Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, will be the third cardinal on the island of Ireland when he is made cardinal Nov. 24.

The 68-year-old cardinal-designate, who serves as primate of all Ireland, was born in Cavan County. He went to St. Patrick's College in Maynooth in 1957, where he spent three years before moving to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. He was ordained a priest in 1964.

After earning a doctorate in canon law, he joined the teaching staff of St. Patrick's College in Cavan, where he served from 1967 to 1980, when he was appointed vice rector of the Irish College. He was rector of the college, 1987-1993.

He was named coadjudator archbishop of Armagh in 1994 and succeeded as archbishop in 1996.

A strong Gaelic football player in his youth, Cardinal-designate Brady served on the Cavan County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which he has joked was a politically-charged environment that prepared him well for higher office in the Church.

10. Lluis Martinez Sistach

Spanish Cardinal-designate Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, 70, was born in Barcelona and served as a priest there. After his 1961 priestly ordination, he studied at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and received his degree in civil and canon law.

While serving as a parish priest, Cardinal-designate Martinez worked with Catholic Action and was a notary on Barcelona's archdiocesan tribunal. He was elected president of Spain's association of canonists in 1983, and he taught canon law for several years.

In 1987 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Barcelona, but then moved to head the diocese of Tortosa in 1991. He became the archbishop of Tarragona in 1997 before being installed as head of the archdiocese of Barcelona in 2004.

Cardinal-designate Martinez is a member of the Apostolic Signature, a Vatican court, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

11. Andre Vingt-Trois

French Cardinal-designate Andre Vingt-Trois is the archbishop of Paris, his hometown. He will celebrate his 65th birthday November 7.

After earning a degree in moral theology from the Catholic Institute in Paris, he was ordained in 1969. After five years in a parish, he began teaching at the Issy-les-Moulineaux seminary. In 1981, he became vicar general of the Paris archdiocese and director of vocations.

He was named an auxiliary bishop of Paris in 1988 and archbishop of Tours in 1999. In 2005, he was named archbishop of Paris, succeeding Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.

12. Angelo Bagnasco

Italian Cardinal-designate Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, 64, was named president of the Italian bishops' conference in March and has been the bishops' leading spokesman in the debate over government plans to grant legal recognition to cohabiting couples, including gays. The cardinal-designate's remarks against the proposed legislation have led to death threats, and he is currently under police protection.

Born in Pontevico, Italy, he was ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese of Genoa in 1966. In 1998, he was named bishop of Pesaro. Two years later, the diocese became an archdiocese.

In 2003, the cardinal-designate was named the ordinary for Italy's armed forces, and in 2006 he succeeded Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, as archbishop of Genoa. He was appointed president of the Italian bishops' conference by Pope Benedict XVI, who — as bishop of Rome — is responsible for naming the conference's top officer.

13. Theodore-Adrien Sarr

Senegalese Cardinal-designate Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar is first vice president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. He also has served as president of the bishops' conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.

The cardinal-designate, who will turn 71 November 28, has continued his predecessors' work to further Muslim-Christian dialogue.

In February, on the eve of the country's presidential election, the cardinal-designate and other Church leaders helped keep an opposition group from clashing with government forces. He repeatedly urged the Senegalese to vote responsibly and peacefully and urged politicians to refrain from inciting the people to violence.

Born in Fadiouth near Dakar in 1936, he was ordained in 1964. He was named bishop of Kaolack in 1974 and was appointed archbishop of Dakar in 2000.

14.Oswald Gracias

Indian Cardinal-designate Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, 62, is president of the Latin-rite Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.

He was born in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, and was ordained to the priesthood there in 1970. For the next five years, he served as chancellor of the diocese of Jamshedpur and as secretary to the diocesan bishop. He then studied in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in canon law and a diploma in jurisprudence from the Pontifical Urbanian University.

Named an auxiliary of the archdiocese of Mumbai in 1997, he also served as secretary-general of the Catholic bishops' conference of India.

He became archbishop of Agra, India, in 2000 and served there six years before being named archbishop of Mumbai in 2006.

Cardinal-designate Gracias serves on the Vatican's Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on the translation of Latin liturgical texts into English.

15. Francisco Robles Ortega

Since 2003, Cardinal-designate Francisco Robles Ortega of Monterrey has headed the archdiocese in Mexico's third-largest city, where drug-related violence has been on the rise.

In late June, he called for "society, families, schools, media outlets and the Church" to speak out against drug-related "acts of death." He also said the "introduction of weapons from the United States" was a serious problem in the region and expressed hope that U.S. politicians would take action to stem it. Monterrey is about 100 miles from the Texas border.

The cardinal-designate was born March 2, 1949, in Mascota, in Mexico's mountainous western state of Jalisco, considered the most staunchly Catholic part of the country. He was the third of 16 children.

He was ordained a priest in July 1976 and studied in Mexico and at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1979, he returned to Mexico to serve as a parish priest in Menor de Autlan until 1991, when he was named auxiliary bishop of Toluca. He was named bishop of Toluca in 1996 and represented Mexico at the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America in 1997.

16. Daniel N. DiNardo

Cardinal-designate Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, a former Vatican official, was born May 23, 1949, in Steubenville, Ohio. He was ordained a priest for the Pittsburgh diocese in 1977. From 1984 to 1990 he was a staff member of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

From 1990 to 1997 he held pastoral posts in the Pittsburgh diocese, where he taught in the ongoing formation program for priests and was assistant spiritual director at St. Paul Seminary.

He was named coadjutor bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, in 1997 and became bishop there the following year.

In Sioux City, he was known for a strong focus on vocations, the strengthening of adult religious education programs, a continued emphasis on the value of Catholic schools and the creation of safe-environment programs for children.

He became coadjutor of the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in 2004 and became head of the archdiocese in February 2006 with the resignation of Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.

Cardinal-designate DiNardo received bachelor's and master's degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, where he is currently a member of the board of trustees. He also received a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a degree in patristics, the study of the Fathers of the Church, from the Augustinianum in Rome.

During his time in Rome, he also served as director of Villa Stritch, the residence for U.S. priests working at the Vatican, and taught a theology seminar in methodology at Gregorian University.

17. Odilio Pedro Scherer

Cardinal-designate Odilio Pedro Scherer, 58, was named archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest archdiocese, in March.

Sao Paulo is also one of the most populous cities in the world; more than 80 percent of its more than 11 million inhabitants are Catholic. The cardinal-designate oversees parishes that struggle with high poverty rates, crime, youth unemployment and lack of basic services like running water.

Cardinal-designate Scherer recently wrote in an article, "God is present in this city, despite its problems and the frightening appearance of this large and complex metropolis."

Born of German descendants in Sao Francisco, Brazil, Cardinal-designate Scherer has strong ties to Rome. He studied philosophy and theology at Rome's Pontifical Brazilian College and Pontifical Gregorian University and worked as an official of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops from 1994 to 2001.

Ordained a priest in 1976, he served as pastor in the Brazilian diocese of Toledo. He taught at and served as rector of a number of seminaries and religious institutes in Southern Brazil.

The cardinal-designate was named an auxiliary bishop of Sao Paulo in November 2001, and in May 2003 he was elected secretary-general of the Brazilian bishops' conference.

In December 2006, Pope Benedict XVI named him one of two secretaries for the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in May in Brazil.

18. John Njue

Kenyan Cardinal-designate John Njue, named archbishop of Nairobi in early October, was named a cardinal even before he was installed in his new archdiocese.

He will be installed as archbishop of Nairobi November 1; Pope Benedict XVI will elevate him to cardinal November 24 at a consistory at the Vatican.

The cardinal-designate — one of two Africans named a cardinal October 17 — gained international prominence as head of the Kenyan bishops' conference from 1997 to 2003. His statements on behalf of the bishops often put him at odds with the government of then-President Daniel arap Moi as Kenyans reviewed their education system and pushed for a constitutional review.

After the bishops announced dissatisfaction with U.S. and Kenyan inquiries into the 2000 death of U.S. Mill Hill Father John Kaiser, Cardinal-designate Njue announced that the bishops would conduct their own investigation.

John Njue was born in 1944 in Embu, Kenya. He studied in Rome at the Pontifical Urbanian University and the Pontifical Lateran University. Pope Paul VI ordained him a priest in 1973.

In 1974 he returned to Kenya, where he served in parishes and taught seminarians. He served as rector of St. Augustine Senior Seminary in Western Kenya, 1978-82. In June 1982, he traveled to the United States for a six-month program of spiritual renewal, then returned to continue his work in parishes and seminaries.

In 1986 he was named first bishop of the diocese of Embu. He was named an archbishop and coadjutor of Nyeri in 2002; he served there until being named to Nairobi October 6.

19. Emmanuel-Karim Delly

Cardinal-designate Emmanuel-Karim Delly, Chaldean Catholic patriarch, has stood out as the voice of the suffering of all Iraqis, not just the Christian minority, during the ongoing war in his country.

The Iraqi cardinal-designate had retired as an auxiliary of Baghdad when he was elected patriarch in 2003, just months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He has often urged nations to have pity on fleeing Iraqis and not send them back to their home country.

Born in Telkaif, near Mosul, in 1927, Cardinal-designate Delly was ordained a priest in 1952 in Rome. He received a master's degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Urbanian University and a doctorate in theology and another in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University.

He was ordained a bishop in 1963 and named an archbishop in 1967. From 1963 until his retirement in October 2002, he served as an auxiliary in Baghdad, where the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate is based.

20. Giovanni Coppa

Cardinal-designate Giovanni Coppa, who will celebrate his 82nd birthday November 9, was born in Alba, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1949.

After studies at the Catholic University of Milan, he began working at the Vatican in what was known as the Apostolic Chancery. The office was charged with drafting, in Latin, formal papal documents, such as those for canonizations and beatifications or those marking the establishment of new dioceses or announcing pontifical honors.

He served as a Latinist at the Second Vatican Council and later worked in the Vatican secretariat of state, which had taken over the duties of the Apostolic Chancery.

Late in 1979, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and personally ordained him in early 1980. Given the task of promoting communications between the Vatican and its diplomatic missions abroad, "he visited all of the nunciatures, traveling all the way around the world five times," said his official Vatican biography.

He served as nuncio first to Czechoslovakia and then to the Czech Republic from 1990 until 2001, when he retired.

21. Estanislao Karlic

Argentine Cardinal-designate Estanislao Karlic, 81, is the retired archbishop of Parana and former president of his country's bishops' conference. From 1986 to 1992, he was a member of the commission appointed by Pope John Paul II to write the Catechism of the Catholic Church, working closely with the future Pope Benedict XVI, who headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1954, he taught in Argentina before being sent to Rome, where he earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1977, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Cordoba and in 1983 was named coadjutor archbishop of Parana, becoming head of the archdiocese three years later.

Along with then-Archbishop Francis E. George of Chicago, Cardinal-designate Karlic served as co-secretary of the 1997 Synod of Bishops for America.

As president of the Argentine bishops' conference, he led Church efforts to promote social peace and solidarity during the country's 2002 economic crisis.

Visiting Pope John Paul that year, he said the bishops were with the people calling for "a nation whose identity is truth and not lies, love and not hatred, work and bread, not unemployment and hunger, the family and not sad solitude, freedom and justice, solidarity and peace."

He retired in 2003.

22. Urbano Navarrete

Cardinal-designate Urbano Navarrete, an 87-year-old Spanish Jesuit, is a canon lawyer who continues to publish and to advise the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.

While some Vatican consultants are simply called to meetings once a year, Cardinal-designate Navarrete has conducted research for the Vatican on specialized subjects and has been called upon to help explain decisions publicly. The topics have ranged from why the Catholic Church does not recognize baptism conferred by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to clarifications about why the church cannot admit transsexuals to sacramental matrimony or ordination.

Born in Camarena, Spain, he entered the Jesuits in 1937 and was ordained to the priesthood during a Eucharistic Congress in Barcelona in 1952.

After studying canon law and sacramental theology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, he returned to the school to teach and to serve several terms as dean of the canon law faculty. He was rector of the university, 1980-86. After another term as dean of canon law, he retired in 1995, but for the first seven years of his retirement, he served as editor of the university's journal on canon law, morality and liturgy.

The day after his Oct. 17 nomination, Cardinal-designate Navarrete was scheduled to be in Madrid to present the Spanish edition of his book on the impact of the Second Vatican Council on how marriage is treated in canon law.

23. Umberto Betti

Cardinal-designate Umberto Betti, 85, is an Italian Franciscan whose contacts with Pope Benedict XVI go back more than 40 years to the Second Vatican Council, when both served as theological experts and worked on the council's document, Dei Verbum, on divine revelation.

The cardinal-designate began serving as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the 1960s and continued to do so until 1997; then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the congregation from 1981 until his election as Pope in 2005.

Born in Central Italy in 1922, Umberto Betti was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. After earning a doctorate in dogmatic theology, he began teaching at the Franciscan-run Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome, serving as rector, 1975-78. He continued teaching at the university until 1991, when Pope John Paul II named him rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, the university where Rome diocesan seminarians study. When he finished his 4-year term, Pope John Paul sent him a formal letter thanking him "for the competence and love you have given to this delicate and important task." He also has served as a consultant to the Vatican secretariat of state.

© Urbi et Orbi Communications

This item 7924 digitally provided courtesy of