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 is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He retired as Prefect on Wednesday, June 30, 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, Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

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Early life and ordination

Born in Borno, Italy, and 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 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 on the following 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.[citation needed]

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 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. This is an unusually fast advancement for a cardinal, but the head of the Congregation for Bishops is usually a cardinal bishop.

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. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI; Re himself was considered a papabile successor to John Paul II.[citation needed]

Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

Re is 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.

Liberal Cardinal

According to French author Denis Crouan, Cardinal Re is one of the most liberal Cardinals in the Roman Curia. 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 appointed several bishops in Germany, France and elsewhere who ultimately opposed the orientations of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.[1]

Lincoln excommunications

In 1996, American bishop Fabian Bruskewitz gained national attention[2] for asserting that local Catholics who are members of several problematic associations thought to be "totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith" would incur automatic excommunication.[3] These groups include : the reform Catholic group Call to Action and its Nebraska affiliate Call to Action Nebraska,[4] 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.[5][6]

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."[citation needed]

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.[7] He later expressed regret over the move after the controversy on the comments of bishop Richard Williamson.[8] Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has argued that if anyone in the Vatican should have known about bishop 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.[9][10]

Brazilian abortion

Cardinal Re, in his role as President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, lent his support to Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife, after the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised[11] Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho decision to excommunicate the mother and doctors of a nine year old girl, who had had an abortion when she conceived twins after alleged abuse by her stepfather, despite Brazilian doctors at the hospital said they had to take account of the welfare of the girl, and that she was so small that her uterus did not have the ability to contain one child let alone two.[12] The girl herself was not excommunicated, due to her age, and nor was the alleged abuser: however, he has been banned from the sacramental community, one step below excommunication and Cardinal Re said that he deserves the hardest possible punishment.[13]

References

Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops
9 October 1987–12 December 1989
Succeeded by
Justin Francis Rigali
Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
Secretary of the College of Cardinals
9 October 1987–12 December 1989
Succeeded by
Justin Francis Rigali
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
Preceded by
Lucas Moreira Neves
President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America
16 September 2000–30 June 2010
Succeeded by
Marc Ouellet