Giovanni Battista Re

His Eminence
Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops
Appointed 16 September 2000
Term ended 30 June 2010
Predecessor Lucas Moreira Neves
Successor Marc Ouellet
Other posts
Ordination 3 March 1957
by Giacinto Tredici
Consecration 7 November 1987
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest (2001-2002)
Cardinal-Bishop (2002-present)
Personal details
Born (1934-01-30) 30 January 1934
Borno, Kingdom of Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Matteo Re (father)
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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 is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He retired as Prefect on 30 June 2010, having turned 75 (the age at which prelates must submit their resignations to the Pope), and was succeeded by the Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, Marc Ouellet PSS. Cardinal Re was the senior Cardinal-Bishop to attend the March 2013 conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor, and as such chaired the conclave.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and ordination 1.1
    • Secretariat of State 1.2
    • Congregation for Bishops 1.3
    • Curial memberships 1.4
    • Papal conclave of 2013 1.5
  • Views 2
    • Temperament 2.1
    • Lincoln excommunications 2.2
    • Response to Stanisław Wielgus Scandal 2.3
    • Society of Saint Pius X 2.4
    • Brazilian abortion 2.5
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Early life and ordination

Born in Borno, Italy as 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, Re has been a member of the Roman Curia since 1963. He was elevated to monsignor the next year 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. Pope John Paul II administered the episcopal consecration one month later, on 7 November.

Secretariat of State

On 12 December 1989, he was transferred to become Sostituto for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, one of the key positions under the Cardinal Secretary of State. In this position he became known as one of the most influential men at the Vatican, though his position was of too low rank for him to be named a cardinal; there was unfounded speculation that he was one of the two men named secretly (in pectore) as cardinals in the consistory of 1998.

Styles of
Giovanni Battista Re
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Congregation for Bishops

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

Since all major Vatican officials automatically lose their positions during a sede vacante, Re too lost his position as Prefect on 2 April 2005 upon the death of John Paul II. He was later 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.[2]

Curial memberships

Re was a member of various offices of the Curia. In May 2008, Pope Benedict named Cardinal Re as a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He was also a member and therefore attended weekly meetings 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.

Papal conclave of 2013

When Pope Francis. At the new pope's inauguration on 19 March 2013, Cardinal Re was one of the six cardinals who made the public profession of obedience to the new pope on behalf of the College of Cardinals.[1][5][6]

On 30 January 2014, Cardinal Re turned 80 and lost the right to participate in future conclaves.[7]



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.[8]

Lincoln excommunications

In 1996, American bishop 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.[12][13]

Response to Stanisław Wielgus Scandal

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."

Society of Saint Pius X

In January 2009, he published a decree removing the excommunications from the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X.[14] He later expressed regret over the move after the controversy on the comments of Bishop Richard Williamson.[15] Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has argued 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.[16][17]

Brazilian abortion

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.[18] 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.[19] The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil declared the Archbishop's statement mistaken.[20]


  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 2013-01-03. 
  2. ^ "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Conclaves of the 21st Century (2005)". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Cardinal electors – Conclave of March 2013 – Arranged in alphabetical order". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Conclave of March 2013". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Rolandi, Luca (2013-03-19). "Il giorno di Papa Francesco: La messa di inizio pontificato in Piazza San Pietro" (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  6. ^ Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate (Vatican video of Pope Francis' papal inauguration on YouTube
  7. ^ "RE, Giovanni Battista". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Un sectarisme inavoué, clairement anti-romain, anti-Benoît XVI". 15 March 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  9. ^ The Televised Today Show Interview Segment
  10. ^ SFBay Catholic: Current Issues In Catholicism Contains the text of the warning of excommunication
  11. ^ Call To Action press release
  12. ^ The Call Stands: Runner is Out, Catholic World News
  13. ^ "Vatican confirms excommunication for US dissident group", Catholic World News
  14. ^ "Document repealing excommunications". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  15. ^ From Christopher Gillibrand (30 January 2009). "Catholic Conclave: Reports that Cardinal Re attacks Cardinal Hoyos over the lifting of the excommunications". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  16. ^ "Cardinal Castrillon denies advance knowledge of Bishop Williamson's views". 25 September 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  17. ^ Pullella, Philip. "Unusual tit-for-tat in the Vatican over Williamson affair". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  18. ^ Brazil attacks church opposition to girl's abortion Stuart Grudgings, Reuters. Retrieved 2010-4-13.
  19. ^ "Vatican backs excommunication of Brazilian MDs over child's abortion". CBCNews. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  20. ^ Nunes Leal, Luciana (13 March 2009). "CNBB desautoriza iniciativa de bispo". O Estadão de S.Paulo. 

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
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
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