Franjo Kuharić

Franjo Kuharić (15 April 1919 – 11 March 2002) was a Croatian Catholic cardinal, who served as the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1970 until his resignation in 1997.[1][2][3] The cardinal was often referred to as the "Rock of Croatia"[1] known for his defense of human rights and his urgings of peace and forgiveness during the independence conflict and the Bosnian War.[4][2]

Franjo Kuharić

Archbishop Emeritus of Zagreb
Kuharić franjo biskup.jpg
ChurchCatholic Church
Appointed16 June 1970
Term ended5 July 1997
PredecessorFranjo Šeper
SuccessorJosip Bozanić
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of San Girolamo dei Croati (1983–2002)
Ordination15 July 1945
by Alojzije Viktor Stepinac
Consecration3 May 1964
by Franjo Šeper
Created cardinal2 February 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameFranjo Kuharić
Born(1919-04-19)19 April 1919
Pribić, Krašić, Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Died11 March 2002(2002-03-11) (aged 82)
Zagreb, Croatia
BuriedZagreb Cathedral
Previous post(s)
Alma materUniversity of Zagreb
MottoDeus caritas est ("God is love")
Feast dayMarch 11
Venerated inCatholic Church
Title as SaintServant of God
Styles of
Franjo Kuharić
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeZagreb (Emeritus)
Ordination history of
Franjo Kuharić
Priestly ordination
Ordained byAlojzije Viktor Stepinac
Date15 July 1945
PlaceZagreb Cathedral, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorFranjo Šeper
Co-consecratorsDragutin Nežic
Josip Lach
Date3 May 1964
PlaceZagreb Cathedral, Croatia
Elevated byPope John Paul II
Date2 February 1983
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Franjo Kuharić as principal consecrator
Đuro Kokša23 July 1978
Antun Bogetić28 April 1984
Anton Tamarut16 March 1986
Josip Bozanić25 June 1989
Želimir Puljić14 January 1990
Marin Srakić24 March 1990
Ivan Prenđa9 June 1990
Juraj Jezerinac8 June 1991
Marko Culej22 February 1992
Ratko Perić14 September 1992
Đuro Gašparović5 October 1996
Ante Ivas19 March 1997
Antun Škvorčević27 September 1997

Kuharić was also a vocal supporter of the cause for the canonization of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (who had ordained him as a priest in 1945[3]) and worked to rehabilitate the image of the cardinal during his episcopate while working towards Stepinac's 1998 beatification held in Zagreb.[1][2]

His cause for canonization commenced on 11 March 2012 and he has been titled as a Servant of God.[3][2]


Cardinal Kuharić (right) alongside Pope John Paul II (left) and Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (middle) in 1997.

Franjo Kuharić was born on 15 April 1919 in Pribić as the thirteenth and final child born to his poor parents Ivan Kuharić and Ana Blažić.[2]

He underwent his theological and philosophical education - the prerequisites for the priesthood - in Zagreb at the college there and had begun on 10 June 1939; his education was completed in 1945.[2] He received his solemn ordination to the priesthood in mid-1945 in the Zagreb Cathedral from Alojzije Stepinac and began his pastoral work in Zagreb from 1945 until 1964.[3] His first pastoral assignment after his ordination was to serve as a chaplain in small villages surrounding Zagreb before Stepinac sent him as a pastor to the Radoboja village.[2]

In 1964 the prelate became the Titular Bishop of Meta in addition to becoming one of the archdiocese's auxiliaries. He received his episcopal consecration as a bishop in mid-1964 from Franjo Šeper in the archdiocesan cathedral.[3] In 1964 and in 1965 he attended - as a bishop - the last two sessions of the Second Vatican Council as a Council Father. In 1969 he was made the apostolic administrator for the archdiocese after Cardinal Šeper was summoned to Rome to assume a new position which put Kuharić in charge of the archdiocese as its interim head. The decisive moment in his episcopate came in 1970 - ending the interim administration - after Pope Paul VI named Kuharić as the newest Archbishop of Zagreb.[3] It was following his appointment that his alma mater awarded him a doctorate in 1970.[2] Kuharić also served as the President of the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference from 1970 until 1993 when the conference was abolished in light of the creation of a Croatian conference; he led that from its inception until 1997. The next decisive moment came in 1983 after Pope John Paul II elevated him into the cardinalate as the Cardinal-Priest of San Girolamo dei Croati. He retired from his see after over two decades of service in mid-1997 and soon after lost the right to participate in a future papal conclave after he turned 80 in 1999.[3]

In 1991 the conflict over independence broke out and Kuharić pleaded for peace and forgiveness on both sides while asking both sides to negotiate for the good of the nation. He reiterated the same thing during the Bosnian War later that decade.[4] The cardinal also criticized the corruption of the government of President Franjo Tuđman though the cardinal's opponents charged that the latter was too close to some of the president's allies.[4][1]

The cardinal hosted John Paul II in the archdiocese upon the latter's 1994 visit and also hosted the pope once more in 1998 for the beatification of Cardinal Stepinac.[1] He made a range of international trips to visit overseas Croatian Catholics. His first such visit was to both the United States of America and Canada from 14 October to 22 November 1970. He made one visit to South America as well as two to South Africa and three to Australia. He made eight visits in total to both the United States in Canada (the 1970 trip being the first).[2]

Kuharić had been ill for some time before he died at 4:20am on 11 March 2002 in Zagreb in the archdiocesan palace due to cardiac arrest (according to the apostolic nuncio Giulio Einaudi);[1] his funeral was celebrated on 14 March and remains were interred in the metropolitan cathedral and rests close to the tombs of his two immediate predecessors.[2] John Paul II - in a telegram of condolence - said that "he gave consistent witness of Christ" through his actions and set about "infusing confidence and courage in the faithful" during times of struggle.[1] President Stjepan Mesić - in a letter to the Zagreb archdiocese - said that "he preached peace" as a central message of his episcopal life.


  In 1998 he was honored with the Grand Order of Queen Jelena.[3]

Beatification processEdit

Kuharić's successor - Josip Bozanić - announced that the cause for his predecessor's beatification would be opened in the archdiocese; this process opened a decade following the cardinal's death on 11 March 2012.

The first and current postulator for this cause is Monsignor Juraj Batelja.



Kuharić was vocal regarding the status of Medjugorje and once declared that "we therefore leave this aspect for further investigation. The Church is in no hurry".[5] The cardinal said that the Croatian Episcopal Conference deemed "Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine" though said further research was needed to make a full decision regarding Medjugorje's status.[5]


The cardinal was open to dialogue with other faiths and was receptive to meeting with interfaith leaders during his episcopal tenure. He met several times with the Patriarch Pavle from the Serbian Orthodox Church to discuss ongoing relations between the two Churches.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Cardinal Kuharić, "Rock of Croatia", Dies". Zenit. 11 March 2002. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Card. Franjo Kuharić". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Salvador Miranda. "Consistory of February 2, 1983 (II)". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Franjo Kuharić, 83, Croatian Cardinal". The New York Times. 14 March 2002. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Glas Koncila (the Croatian Catholic Newspaper), 15 August 1993.

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Franjo Šeper
Archbishop of Zagreb
16 June 1970–5 July 1997
Succeeded by
Josip Bozanić
Preceded by
Paolo Bertoli
Cardinal-Priest of San Girolamo dei Croati
2 February 1983-11 March 2002
Preceded by
President of the Croatian Episcopal Conference
15 May 1993-5 July 1997