Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop emeritus of Lima, Peru, is celebrating 36 years as a bishop and on the occasion has expressed his special gratitude to St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.

The cardinal addressed the subject in a July 4 video message from Rome posted by Diario Expreso, recalling the day of his episcopal consecration on July 3, 1988, after being named auxiliary bishop of Ayacucho in the Peruvian Andes.

“This leads me to want to greet you to thank you all. The truth is that they have been intense, long years, where I think that there are three people who have influenced me a lot and have helped me a lot,” the Peruvian cardinal said.

First of all, he said, “St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei: He taught me to love the Church as the Church wants to be loved. And so these long years, I have always counted on his help and his intercession.”

Next, “St. John Paul II, who called me to be a bishop and then made me a cardinal: a man who loved freedom. That is why, so many times in my life I have chosen to live in freedom even though there were difficulties. Freedom is not negotiated, freedom allows you to be happy and help others,” Cipriani said.

“And finally Pope Benedict XVI, a man passionate about the truth even though the truth may bring you problems. The truth is that these years, together with these three holy men, I have tried to help the Church, serving the Church, helping the family, defending life. I’ve had a great time. They have been hard years of intense work,” the prelate shared.

Cipriani also thanked his parents and friends and encouraged everyone to forge ahead and to pray for him.

Who is Cardinal Cipriani?

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne is one of the two current Peruvian cardinals. In his youth he studied engineering and was part of the national basketball team. On Dec. 28, 2023, he turned 80, meaning he will no longer be part of an eventual conclave to elect the next pope.

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Pope Francis accepted his resignation as archbishop of Lima in 2019, after he turned 75, the retirement age for bishops. The pope appointed Father Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio as his successor.

Among the many works he carried out in the Archdiocese of Lima, Cipriani stood out for having led for several years the March for Life, which in 2018 brought together 800,000 people in defense of this natural right.

He was also auxiliary bishop and archbishop of Ayacucho from 1988–1999, later being named primate of Peru and archbishop of Lima, where he served for 20 years.

Pope John Paul II made him cardinal in the consistory of Feb. 21, 2001, the same consistory in which Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was made a cardinal.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.