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College of Cardinals

Biographical notes

[Updated: 12.12.2011]


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press, for the exclusive use of accredited journalists.


FOLEY Card. John Patrick


Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, was born on 11 November 1935 in Darby, Pennsylvania (USA).

After earning a bachelor’s degree in history and in philosophy, he was ordained a priest on 19 May 1962. He then became assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Philadelphia. In 1963, he was named assistant editor of The Catholic Standard and Times, and while he went to Rome to continue his studies, he served as Rome correspondent.

In 1965 he received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and then in 1966 a Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia University. In 1967, he returned to The Catholic Standard and Times as assistant editor and was professor of philosophy at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia.

From 1966 until 1974, he was co-producer and co-host of the Philadelphia Catholic Hour on the local radio. He was also co-producer of the television series “The Making of a Priest” for Group W Television in the United States, and was active in other radio and television productions.

In 1970 he was named editor of The Catholic Standard and Times. A position he held until 1984. In 1976, he was named an honorary prelate of His Holiness.

He also served as member of the board of governors of the 41st International Eucharistic Congress (1976); regional board of directors of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (1968-1983); board of directors (1977-1984) and then vice president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada (1981-1984). He was also vice chairman of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission (1979-1984).

He served as news secretary for the meetings of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States and as English-language press liaison for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ireland and the United States in 1979 and for the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 1980.

On 9 April 1984 he was appointed president of the Pontifical Commission (now Pontifical Council) for Social Communications and titular Archbishop of Neapolis in Proconsulari. He was ordained a bishop on 8 May 1984. From August that year until 1989, he was president of the administrative council of the Vatican Television Centre. He also founded the Vatican’s film library.

On 27 June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and on 22 December 2007 he became Grand Master.

Member of Congregations: for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Evangelization of Peoples (2008-2011).

Grand Master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, 29 August 2011.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 24 November 2007, of the Deaconry of San Sebastiano al Palatino (St. Sebastian on the Palatine).

Cardinal John Patrick Foley died on 11 December 2011.


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