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College of Cardinals

Biographical notes

[Updated: 16.12.2013]


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


RIGALI Card. Justin Francis

© Arturo Mari/L'Osservatore Romano



Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia (USA), was born on 19 April 1935 in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. He was ordained a priest on 25 April 1961 and holds a doctorate in canon law.

In 1964 he entered the English-language department of the Vatican Secretariat of State, of which he was appointed Director in 1970, after serving in the Apostolic Nunciature in Madagascar (1966-1970). He worked as the English translator for Pope Paul VI, whom he accompanied to various countries. He also served as professor at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. 

On 8 June 1985 he was appointed titular Archbishop of Bolsena and he was ordained on 14 September 1985. At the same time, he was appointed President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. From 1985-1990, he held various Vatican posts and was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops on 21 December 1989 and shortly thereafter, on 2 January 1990, Secretary of the College of Cardinals. 

On 25 January 1994 he was appointed Archbishop of Saint Louis, Missouri.

On 15 July 2003 he was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia. His resignation was accepted on 19 July 2011.

He serves on various committees of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by tje Bl. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003, of the Title of S. Prisca.

Member of:

  • Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; 
  • Committee Vox Clara;  
  • Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

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