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College of Cardinals

Biographical notes

[Updated: 16.10.2007]


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press.


CASTILLO LARA Card. Rosalio José, S.D.B.




Cardinal Rosalio José Castillo Lara, President emeritus of Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, was born on 4 September 1922 in San Casimiro, in the diocese of Maracay (Estado Aragua, Venezuela), the third son of a family of seven. His paternal grandfather, Manuel Castillo Arteaga, built the first Church dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians in Venezuela on his property.

He did his elementary and secondary studies at the Salesian College of Valencia and received his secondary diploma from the Liceo San José of Los Teques, Venezuela. Thereafter, he entered the Salesian novitiate in Bogotà.

Ordained to the priesthood in Caracas on 4 September 1949 by his uncle Mons. Castillo Hernandez, then Archbishop of Caracas and Primate of Venezuela, he became head of the Liceo San José of Los Teques. In 1950 he was sent to Italy to study Canon Law at the Salesian University of Torino, graduating summa cum laude in 1953 with a thesis on Coacción eclesiastica y Sacro Romano Imperio. After returning to Venezuela, he was elected President of the Venezuelan Association of Catholic Educators (AVEC).

In September 1954, he was appointed docent of the Canon Law Faculty of the Salesian University where he taught for eleven years, first at Torino (until 1957) and then at the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome (until 1965). In 1962, at the University of Bonn, he did research on the reform of the German penal code, under the direction of Prof. Hans Welzel, Rector of the University, with a grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. He was also a consulting member of the Institute for Research and Study in Medieval Law, founded and directed by Prof. Stephan Kuttner.

In January of 1996 he was named Provincial Superior of the Salesians in Venezuela and in August 1967 he was elected to the General Council of Salesians as Regional Superior for Latin America, responsible for visiting the Salesian centers of activity in the Southern Cone (Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina). In the Salesian General Chapter of 1971 he was elected General Councilor for the Pastoral Care of Youth.

On 26 March 1973, Pope Paul VI appointed him Coadjutor Bishop of Trujillo in Venezuela, with the title of Precausa. He received episcopal ordination on 24 May 1973. He took part in the Synod of Bishops in 1974 as the Delegate of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference.

On 12 February 1975, he was again called to Rome as Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law. He then became a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of decrees of the Second Vatican Council and Consultor of the Congregations for Catholic Education and for the Sacraments.

On 5 October 1981, he was named President of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia. On 15 May 1982, he was appointed Pro-President of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, and on 26 May 1982 he was promoted to the titular archiepiscopal See of Precausa.

On 18 January 1984, the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law was instituted, and he became its first president.

On 6 December 1989, he was appointed President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (resigned 24 June 1995). In October 1990 he became President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State until 15 October 1997

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of 25 May 1985, of the Title of Nostra Signora di Comoroto in S. Giovanni di Dio (Our Lady of Comoroto in St. John of God), deaconry elevated pro hac vice to presbyteral title on 29 January 1996.

Cardinal Rosalio José Castillo Lara died on 16 October 2007.


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