American cardinal retires from Vatican post

Cardinal James Stafford
Cardinal James Stafford


The Vatican announced this morning that the Pope has accepted the resignation of 77-year-old Cardinal James Francis Stafford, the former Archbishop of Denver, from his post as the Penitentiary Major. He will be replaced by Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, the current apostolic nuncio to France.

As head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Stafford has dealt with matters related to sin, mercy and forgiveness. The Penitentiary is one of the three tribunals within the Holy See, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is divided into two sections. The first section deals with the granting of indulgences, while the second is dedicated to resolving sins reserved to the Pope and matters of conscience forwarded to the Holy See.

The Cardinal in charge of the Penitentiary also assists the Pope during Jubilee years and prays certain prayers with the Pope while he is dying.

Recent indulgences granted by the Penitentiary include one for participants at World Youth Day in Sydney, one for the Year of St. Paul and one for the Year of Priests.

Cardinal Stafford has also been outspoken about his view of the election of President Barack Obama.

In a speech he gave at Catholic University of America, he described Obama as "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic" and went on to speak about a decline in respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the values of marriage and human dignity.

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