Cardinal Foley remembered as great evangelizer


The new head of the Vatican's social communications council Archbishop Claudio Celli recalled the rich legacy of his predecessor, Cardinal John Patrick Foley, who died on Dec. 11.

Archbishop Celli remembered the American cardinal as “a man of faith, an evangelizer and a communicator” at a Mass celebrated at the Church of St. Mary in the Roman suburb of Traspontina.

“In him one could not only discover but also see the face of a Church able to speak to the world with cordiality and to dialogue with the utmost openness, without ever imposing the truth,” he said on Dec. 11.

Cardinal Foley passed away at the age of 76 in Pennsylvania after a struggle with leukemia and other ailments.

One month later in a Jan. 11 L’Osservatore Romano article, Archbishop Celli reflected on Cardinal Foley's contributions to the pontifical council. He noted that as president of the council for more than 20 years, the cardinal was the first to share doctrinal and cultural reflections on the role of the internet.

He also said that Cardinal Foley was one of the driving forces behind the drafting of “important documents on the dangerous assault” of online pornography. 

The late cardinal was “a man of God who became a man of communication,” Archbishop Celli observed.

Cardinal Foley was born to John and Regina Foley in Darby, Pennsylvania in 1935. He grew up in Holy Spirit Parish in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia.

The future cardinal was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1962 and edited the archdiocesan paper, the Catholic Standard & Times. He served as editor of Rome’s archdiocesan newspaper from 1970 to 1984. Ordained a bishop in 1984, he served as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from that year through 2007.

For 21 years, he provided the English-language commentary for the global TV broadcasts of Christmas and Easter Masses.

He became a cardinal in 2007 after Pope Benedict appointed him Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which gives spiritual and financial support to the Catholic Church in the Holy Land and helps maintain Christian shrines there.

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