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Justin Francis Rigali

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Justin Francis Rigali

His Eminence
Justin Francis Rigali
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
See Philadelphia (Emeritus)
Appointed July 15, 2003
Installed October 7, 2003
Term ended July 19, 2011
Predecessor Anthony Bevilacqua
Successor Charles Chaput OFM Cap
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Prisca
Episcopal Liaison to CMSWR[1]
Ordination April 25, 1961
by James Francis McIntyre
Consecration September 14, 1985
by John Paul II
Created Cardinal October 21, 2003
by John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1935-04-19) April 19, 1935
Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
(The Word Became Flesh)
Coat of arms }
Styles of
Justin Rigali
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Justin Francis Rigali (born April 19, 1935) is an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the eighth Archbishop of Philadelphia, having previously served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1994 to 2003. Rigali was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Episcopal career 2
    • Archbishop of St. Louis 2.1
    • Archbishop of Philadelphia 2.2
    • Apostolic Administrator of Scranton 2.3
  • Views 3
    • Gay marriage 3.1
    • Abortion 3.2
    • Conscience rights 3.3
    • Stem cell research 3.4
    • Ordination of women 3.5
    • Communications 3.6
  • Charity work 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and career

The youngest of seven children, Justin Rigali was born in Los Angeles, California, to Henry Alphonsus and Frances Irene (née White) Rigali.[2] Two of his siblings entered the religious life as well; his sister Charlotte joined the Sisters of St. Joseph, and his brother Norbert the Jesuits.[2] Rigali attended Holy Cross School before entering the preparatory seminary in Hancock Park in 1949.[2] He studied philosophy and theology at Los Angeles College, Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary in San Fernando and St. John's Seminary in Camarillo.[2] He was ordained to the priesthood by James Francis Cardinal McIntyre on April 25, 1961,[3] and then did pastoral work in Los Angeles and Downey.[2]

In 1961, Rigali earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from the Catholic University of America, where he is now a member of the Board of Trustees. In October of that year, he entered the graduate division of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, later obtaining a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1964.[2] He was also an assistant during the first two sessions (1962–1963) of the Second Vatican Council.[4] Rigali briefly returned to the United States in the summer of 1964, during which time he served as an associate pastor in Pomona.[2] Returning to Rome, he then studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy from 1964 to 1966 in preparation for his diplomatic work for the Vatican.

Rigali began his service in the English section of the Secretariat of State on November 25, 1964.[4] From September 1966 to February 1970, he was secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature to Madagascar, which also served as the apostolic delegation for the islands of Réunion and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. He was named a Papal Chamberlain on July 11, 1967. On February 11, 1970, Rigali became director of the English section of the Secretariat of State and the English translator to Pope Paul VI, whom Rigali subsequently accompanied on several international trips.[4]

During his service at the Secretariat of State, Rigali was also a chaplain at a Carmelite monastery and a professor at his alma mater of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.[2] He accompanied Pope John Paul II on a number of international pastoral visits, including his first two journeys to the United States in 1979 (which included a trip to Rigali's future see of Philadelphia) and 1987. He was made a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness on April 19, 1980, and a magistral chaplain in the Order of the Knights of Malta on October 25, 1984.[4]

Episcopal career

On June 8, 1985, Rigali was appointed President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and Titular Archbishop of Volsinium by Pope John Paul II.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 14 from Pope John Paul, with Archbishops Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Achille Silvestrini as co-consecrators, in the cathedral of Albano.[3] He selected as his episcopal motto: Verbum Caro Factum Est, meaning, "The Word Became Flesh" ( John 1:14). He became a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre on October 13, 1986.[4]

From 1985 to 1990, in addition to his role of President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Rigali held a number of positions within the Roman Curia, serving in the Secretariat of State, Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, Congregation for Bishops, and Pontifical Council for the Laity.[2] He was named Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops by John Paul II on December 21, 1989; as Secretary, he served as the second-highest official of that dicastery. Rigali was later made Secretary of the College of Cardinals by John Paul II on January 2, 1990, and served on the Permanent Interdicasterial Commission, Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the same time, he was also engaged in pastoral service to a number of parishes and seminaries in Rome.[2]

Archbishop of St. Louis

On January 25, 1994, Pope John Paul II named Rigali the seventh

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alfons Maria Stickler, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Volsinium
1985 – 1994
Succeeded by
Justo Mullor García
Preceded by
Cesare Zacchi
President of Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
1985 – 1989
Succeeded by
Karl-Josef Rauber
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Secretary for the Congregation for Bishops
1989 – 1994
Succeeded by
Jorge María Mejía
Preceded by
John L. May
Archbishop of Saint Louis
1994 – 2003
Succeeded by
Raymond Leo Burke
Preceded by
Anthony Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia
2003 – 2011
Succeeded by
Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Preceded by
Alfonso López Trujillo
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca
2003 – present
Succeeded by
  • ... what the cardinals believe ...: Justin Francis Rigali

External links

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He is an honorary council member of the St. Louis, Missouri based humanitarian organization Wings of Hope.[17]

Charity work

He has a weekly series of Lenten discourses on YouTube. In the beginning of 2010 an official Facebook page was launched for Cardinal Rigali.


In April 2009, he denounced the ordination ceremony of two women in Roxborough, calling it a "pseudo-ordination" that "denigrates the truth entrusted to the Church by Christ himself."[16]

Ordination of women

In March 2009, he described President restrictions on embryonic stem cell research as "a sad victory of politics over science and ethics."[15]

Stem cell research

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.

Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself.[14]

and declared:

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm:
  1. the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life;
  2. marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and;
  3. religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.[14]

In November 2009, Cardinal Rigali, with several other Roman Catholic prelates, signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration, which stated:

Conscience rights

He said that the decision by the University of Notre Dame to have President Obama deliver the commencement speech at its graduation ceremony and receive an honorary degree was "most unfortunate" and the reasoning behind it "evades common sense."[13]

He was the principal celebrant at the Vigil Mass for the March for Life on January 21, 2009.[12]

As chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Pro-Life Committee, he remarked during the annual Washington, D.C. pro-life rally in January 2007 that "there are reasons for rejoicing" in the pro-life cause: the growing participation by young people and a heightened awareness of the issue's intense and growing moral sensitivity among them, who will eventually have a contribution to make to societal issues. He has publicly endorsed the Pregnant Women Support Act, which he praised for offering "an authentic common ground" that "will proved many kinds of life-affirming support for pregnant women and their unborn children."[11]


In June 2006, Cardinal Rigali traveled to the U.S. Senate banning gay unions or marriages.

Gay marriage


On August 31, 2009, Cardinal Rigali became the Apostolic Administrator (sede vacante) to the Diocese of Scranton following the Pope's acceptance of the resignations of Bishop Joseph Martino and Bishop John Dougherty, Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton. Rigali served eight months as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton. His delegate was Joseph C. Bambera, who became the tenth Bishop of Scranton on April 26, 2010, bringing Rigali's administration of Scranton to an end.

Apostolic Administrator of Scranton

On 16 December 2013 he was removed from the Congregation for Bishops by Pope Francis.[10]

It was announced on July 19, 2011 that Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, would succeed Rigali in his position as Archbishop of Philadelphia. Chaput's installation took place on September 8, 2011.[8] Rigali served as the Apostolic Administrator of Philadelphia until Chaput's official installation.[9] After the installation, Cardinal Rigali began his time of retirement in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, where he had been invited to live (the current Bishop of Knoxville, Richard Stika, served as a Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Louis when Cardinal Rigali was the Archbishop there from 1994 to 2003).

On June 16, 2011, the Cardinal was appointed Pope Benedict XVI's special envoy to the celebrations at Prachatice in the Czech Republic for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Neumann, the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia and thus Rigali's predecessor. Neumann, the second American citizen to be canonized (after St. Frances Xavier Cabrini), was born in Prachatice, came to the United States and was ordained there in 1836, and in 1848 became a naturalized United States citizen.[7]

Cardinal Rigali turned 75 in 2010, the age at which Bishops (or Cardinals) must submit a letter of resignation to the Pope, although it is not required to be accepted at that time.

In September 2007, the Cardinal was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the curia department that puts forward to the Pope the names of those considered to be appropriate choices to be appointed as bishops.

Cardinal Rigali was the only American cardinal to serve as a concelebrant at the 2005 funeral mass for John Paul II. He was also one of the cardinal electors who participated in the ensuing papal conclave, which selected Pope Benedict XVI, as well as the following conclave, which selected Pope Francis. Cardinal Rigali remained eligible to vote in conclaves until he reached 80 on April 19, 2015.

Rigali was later appointed the eighth Archbishop of Philadelphia by Pope John Paul II toward the end of his pontificate on July 15, 2003,[3] replacing the retiring Anthony Bevilacqua.[6] Prior to Archbishop Rigali's installation in Philadelphia on October 7, 2003, it was announced on September 28 that he would be elevated to the College of Cardinals, a customary privilege for the archbishops of Philadelphia. Archbishop Rigali was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in the consistory of October 21, 2003.

Archbishop of Philadelphia

In January 1999, Archbishop Rigali hosted the pastoral visit of Pope John Paul to St. Louis, the only such papal visit (not counting the even briefer stopovers John Paul made in Alaska on trips to other countries) to a single diocese in the United States during the pontificate.[5] John Paul reportedly decided to be hosted by the Archdiocese of St. Louis because of his longtime close friendship with Rigali, from Rigali's days working under him in Rome as a bishop.[5]


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