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Giovanni Battista Re

Giovanni Battista Re (born 30 January 1934) is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church whose service has been primarily in the Roman Curia. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001. He is the Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, having retired on 30 June 2010. As the senior Cardinal-Bishop to attend the March 2013 conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor, he chaired the conclave. Pope Francis approved his election as Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals on 10 June 2017.

Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops
Photo of Cardinal Re in 2009
Cardinal Re in 2009
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed16 September 2000
Term ended30 June 2010
PredecessorLucas Moreira Neves
SuccessorMarc Ouellet
Other posts
Ordination3 March 1957
by Giacinto Tredici
Consecration7 November 1987
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal-Priest (2001-2002)
Cardinal-Bishop (2002-present)
Personal details
Birth nameGiovanni Battista Re
Born (1934-01-30) 30 January 1934 (age 85)
Borno, Kingdom of Italy
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsMatteo Re (father)
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Coat of armsGiovanni Battista Re's coat of arms
Styles of
Giovanni Battista Re
Coat of arms of Giovanni Battista Re.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeSabina-Poggio Mirteto (Suburbicarian diocese)


Early life and ordinationEdit

Born in Borno, Italy, the son of the carpenter Matteo Re (1908–2012),[1] Giovanni Battista Re was ordained a priest by Archbishop Giacinto Tredici in Brescia on 3 March 1957. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and taught in the Brescia seminary before entering the Holy See's diplomatic service. Re has been a member of the Roman Curia since 1963, where he served as personal secretary to Archbishop Giovanni Benelli. He was elevated to monsignor and served in various diplomatic positions before being named both bishop of the titular see of Forum Novum and Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops on 9 October 1987.[2] Pope John Paul II administered the episcopal consecration one month later, on 7 November.

Curia appointmentsEdit

On 12 December 1989, he became Sostituto (Substitute) for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, one of the key positions under the Cardinal Secretary of State.[2]

He was named on 16 September 2000 to head the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.[2] Re became Cardinal-Priest of Ss. XII Apostoli in the consistory held 21 February 2001, named first among those elevated. The next year, on 1 October, he was named Cardinal Bishop of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto.

Re automatically lost his position as Prefect on 2 April 2005 upon the death of John Paul II. He was then confirmed to office by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 April 2005. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.[3]

Re was a member of various offices of the Curia. In May 2008, Pope Benedict named him a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He was also a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in addition to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He held these memberships until his 80th birthday.

College of CardinalsEdit

When Pope Benedict XVI resigned on 28 February 2013, both Cardinals Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Roger Etchegaray, the Sub-Dean, were over the age of 80 and therefore ineligible to participate in the conclave to elect his successor. Cardinal Re, the senior cardinal elector, presided over the conclave, which elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis. At the new pope's inauguration on 19 March 2013, Cardinal Re was one of the six cardinals who made a public profession of obedience to the new pope on behalf of the College of Cardinals.[a][4][5]

On 10 June 2017, Pope Francis approved his election as Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals by the cardinals of the suburbicarian sees.[6]



Insiders describe him as a friend of Carlo Maria Martini, who has played a major role in the dissent against the last three Popes. As leader of the Congregation for Bishops, Re reportedly appointed several bishops in Germany, France and elsewhere who opposed some of the stances of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.[7]

Lincoln excommunicationsEdit

In 1996, American bishop Fabian Bruskewitz gained national attention[8] for asserting that local Catholics who are members of several associations thought to be "totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith" would incur automatic excommunication.[9] These groups include Call to Action and its Nebraska affiliate, Call to Action Nebraska,[10] the family planning provider Planned Parenthood and its affiliate Catholics for a Free Choice, the Freemasons and their affiliate organizations, Job's Daughters, DeMolay, Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls; and the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society (now renamed Compassion & Choices). His pronouncement was appealed to Rome, but in 2006 the ruling was upheld by Cardinal Re, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.[11][12]

Wielgus scandalEdit

Re, who assists the pope in deciding the future careers of the clergy as Prefect of Bishops, said that, "When Monsignor Wielgus was nominated, we did not know anything about his collaboration with the secret services."[citation needed]

Society of Saint Pius XEdit

In January 2009, he published a decree removing the excommunications from the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X. He later expressed regret over the move after the controversy on the comments of Bishop Richard Williamson.[citation needed] Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos said that if anyone in the Vatican should have known about Williamson's negationist views, it was not himself but rather Cardinal Re, due to the fact that Re is responsible for the Congregation of Bishops, which oversees information about bishops and prelates.[13][14]

Brazilian abortionEdit

In March 2009, after an abortion on a nine-year-old girl raped by her stepfather and pregnant with twins had been performed to save her life, Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife stated that automatic excommunication had been incurred by the girl's mother and the medical team.[15] President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticized what he called the Archbishop's "conservative attitude" and Health Minister José Gomes Temporão directed his criticism against the Catholic Church's position, describing it as "extreme, radical and inadequate". In a comment to an Italian newspaper, Cardinal Re deplored what he called an attack on the Church in Brazil: "It is a sad case, but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated. Life must always be protected. The attack on the Brazilian church is unjustified." He added that excommunication of those who performed the abortion was just.[16] The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil declared the Archbishop's statement mistaken.[17]


  1. ^ The other five cardinals were Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone, Joachim Meisner, Jozef Tomko, Renato Raffaele Martino and Francesco Marchisano. Cardinal Re himself along with the Cardinal-Camerlengo Bertone represented the cardinal-bishops; Cardinals Meisner and Tomko represented the cardinal priests; and Cardinals Martino and Marchisano represented the cardinal-deacons.


  1. ^ "Kardinal Giovanni Battista Re ist (nicht) tot – Unrühmliche Rolle in den Fällen Bischof Krenn und Pfarrer Wagner?" (in German). Katholisches – Magazin für Kirche und Kultur. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Card. Giovanni Battista", Holy See Press Office
  3. ^ "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Conclaves of the 21st Century (2005)". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  4. ^ Rolandi, Luca (19 March 2013). "Il giorno di Papa Francesco: La messa di inizio pontificato in Piazza San Pietro" (in Italian). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  5. ^ Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate (Vatican video of Pope Francis' papal inauguration on YouTube
  6. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 10.06.2017" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 10 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Un sectarisme inavoué, clairement anti-romain, anti-Benoît XVI". 15 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  8. ^ The Televised Today Show Interview Segment Archived 18 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ SFBay Catholic: Current Issues In Catholicism Archived 19 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine Contains the text of the warning of excommunication
  10. ^ Call To Action press release Archived 18 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ The Call Stands: Runner is Out, Catholic World News
  12. ^ "Vatican confirms excommunication for US dissident group", Catholic World News
  13. ^ "Cardinal Castrillon denies advance knowledge of Bishop Williamson's views". 25 September 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  14. ^ Pullella, Philip. "Unusual tit-for-tat in the Vatican over Williamson affair". Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  15. ^ Brazil attacks church opposition to girl's abortion Stuart Grudgings, Reuters. Retrieved 2010-4-13.
  16. ^ "Vatican backs excommunication of Brazilian MDs over child's abortion". CBCNews. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  17. ^ Nunes Leal, Luciana (13 March 2009). "CNBB desautoriza iniciativa de bispo". O Estadão de S.Paulo. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014.

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops
9 October 1987 – 12 December 1989
Succeeded by
Justin Francis Rigali
Secretary of the College of Cardinals
9 October 1987 – 12 December 1989
Archbishop of Vescovìo (pro illa vice)
9 October 1987 – 21 February 2001
Succeeded by
Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo
Preceded by
Edward Idris Cassidy
Substitute for General Affairs
12 December 1989 – 16 September 2000
Succeeded by
Leonardo Sandri
Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
16 September 2000 – 30 June 2010
Succeeded by
Marc Ouellet
President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America
16 September 2000 – 30 June 2010
Preceded by
Agostino Casaroli
Cardinal-Priest of Santi XII Apostoli
21 February 2001 – 1 October 2002
Succeeded by
Angelo Scola
Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto
1 October 2002 – present
Preceded by
Roger Etchegaray
Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals
10 June 2017 - present