Zenon Grocholewski

Zenon Grocholewski (11 October 1939 – 17 July 2020) was a Polish prelate of the Catholic Church, who was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001. He joined the Roman Curia in 1972 and served from 1999 until 2015 as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

His Eminence

Zenon Grocholewski
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Cardinal Mgr Zenon Grocholewski.jpg
Appointed15 November 1999
Term ended31 March 2015
PredecessorPio Laghi
SuccessorGiuseppe Versaldi
Other postsCardinal Priest of San Nicola in Carcere (2001–2020)
Ordination27 May 1963
by Antoni Baraniak
Consecration6 January 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Birth nameZenon Grocholewski
Born(1939-10-11)11 October 1939
Bródki, Poland
DiedJuly 17, 2020(2020-07-17) (aged 80)
Rome, Italy
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Acropolis (1982–2001)
  • Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura (1982–1998)
  • Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (1998–1999)
MottoIllum oportet crescere
('He must increase', John 3:30)
Styles of
Zenon Grocholewski
Coat of arms of Zenon Grocholewski.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeAcropolis (titular)


Zenon Grocholewski was born in Bródki to Stanisław and Józefa (née Stawińska) Grocholewski. After studying at the archdiocesan seminary of Poznań, Grocholewski was ordained to the priesthood on 27 May 1963[1] by Archbishop Antoni Baraniak.[2]

He joined the staff of the Apostolic Signatura in 1972.[3] On 21 December 1982 he was appointed titular bishop of Acropolis,[4] and he received his episcopal consecration on the following 6 January from Pope John Paul II, with Archbishops Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Duraisamy Lourdusamy serving as co-consecrators.[5] John Paul promoted Grocholewski to the rank of Archbishop on 16 December 1991.[6] On 15 November 1999, John Paul appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[7] That position made him ex officio Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University.[1][8]

Grocholewski was created Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere by John Paul II in the consistory of 21 January 2001.[9] Grocholewski automatically lost his curial position on 2 April 2005 upon the death of Pope John Paul. He was confirmed in office by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 April. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.[10] On 21 February 2011, he opted for the order of Cardinal Priest, with his former diaconal church elevated to the level of cardinalitial title.[11] He participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.[12]

Grocholewski was a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the Special Council for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops.[13] Cardinal Grocholewski was also the papal envoy to the ceremonies marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the oldest university in Asia.[14]

On 31 March 2015, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi to succeed Grocholewski as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[15]

Zenon Grocholewski died on 17 July 2020 at the age of 80.[3][16]

Academic careerEdit

Grocholewski taught at the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1975–1999) and at the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome (1980–1984). He also gave lectures on Administrative Justice at the Studio Rotale of the Roman Rota (1986–1998).[17] The list of his publications ran to 550 entries.[18]

He gave talks at conferences and conventions in various countries. He was connected with a number of Canon Law associations, and with the editorial boards of some academic reviews and journals.[17]

Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic EducationEdit

In March 2011 at a press conference to present the newly published Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy, Cardinal Grocholewski explained how the normative documents concerning ecclesiastical studies comprehended John Paul II's 1979 Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana" and its norms of application, issued in the same year by the Congregation for Catholic Education. "Nonetheless", he said, "'Ecclesia semper est reformanda' in order to respond to the new demands of ecclesial life in changing historical-cultural circumstances and this also (perhaps especially) involves the academic world". The reasons for the reform, the cardinal explained, are "on the one hand, the shortcomings in philosophical formation at many ecclesiastical institutions, where precise points of reference are lacking especially as regards the subjects to be taught and the quality of teachers.... On the other hand there is the conviction – expressed in John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical Fides et ratio of the importance of the metaphysical component of philosophy, ... and the awareness that philosophy is indispensable for theological formation". For this reason today's decree of the congregation aims to re-evaluate philosophy, above all in the light of that Encyclical, ... restoring the 'original vocation' of philosophy; i.e., the search for truth and its sapiental and metaphysical dimension".[19]

Honours, awards and decorationsEdit

Cardinal Grocholewski received more than 20 honorary Doctorates, the Grand Medal of San Gorazdo of the Ministry of Education of Slovakia (2000), the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Chile) (2003), the Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Sash of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005), the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2009), and Commander of l’Ordre des Palmes académiques of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of France (2009).[17]

  •   Order of Merit (Chile), Grand Cross (2003)
  •   Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Sash (2005)
  •   Order of Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross with Star (2009)
  •   Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France), Commandeur (2009)


  1. ^ a b "Grocholewski Card. Zenon". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  3. ^ a b "Polish cardinal who spent half his life serving at Vatican dies at 80". Crux. Catholic News Service. 17 July 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXV. 1983. p. 334. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski". Kansas City: Catholic-Hierarchy.org. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXIV. 1992. p. 94. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  7. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). XCI. 1999. p. 1199. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Pontifical Roman Universities". New Catholic Encyclopedia. Catholic University of America. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  9. ^ Pope John Paul II (21 February 2001). "Concistoro Ordinario Pubblico per la creazione dei nuovi Cardinali" [Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals]. The Holy See (Homily) (in Italian). Libreria Editrica Vaticana. Assegnazione dei Titoli o delle Diaconie ai nuovi Cardinali. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018 – via the Holy See.
  10. ^ Fox News, Fast Facts: List of Cardinal Electors, 18 April 2005
  11. ^ Concistoro per il voto su alcune cause di canonizzazione 21 February 2011 Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Grocholewski, Zenon". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Pontiff Sends Message to Far East's Oldest University". Zenit News Agency. Innovative Media Inc. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  15. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (31 March 2015). "Versaldi is the new "minister" of Catholic education". Vaticam Insider. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Kardinal Zenon Grocholewski ist tot. Ein enger Mitarbeiter von Johannes Paul II. Starb". Nach Welt (in German). 17 July 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Cf. Official Biography of Cardinal Grocholewski used during the 400th year foundation of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila.
  18. ^ Donnini, Debora (18 July 2020). "I funerali del cardinale Grocholewski: la santità come vera grandezza dell'uomo". Vatican News (in Italian). Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  19. ^ New decree on reform of philosophy studies Archived 16 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gilberto Agustoni
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
5 October 1998 – 15 November 1999
Succeeded by
Mario Francesco Pompedda
Preceded by
Pío Laghi
Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Versaldi