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Opening Remarks by Cardinal William Levada

St. Peter’s Basilica
January 10, 2007


On the occasion of this memorial Mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Franjo Šeper, former Archbishop of Zagreb and former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I want to thank all those who have gathered here to celebrate his memory, and to pray for him and for the continued blessings of Almighty God on the works he accomplished so faithfully and wisely in his homeland of Croatia and here in Rome, at the service of three Holy Fathers and of the universal Church.

I greet very warmly his many friends and former co-workers here in the Vatican. I greet with special joy the many Bishops, priests, religious and laity from Croatia, especially the young scholars from the Archdiocese of Zagreb. I thank publicly Cardinal Josip Bozanic, successor of Cardinal Šeper as Archbishop of Zagreb, for his presence here today and for agreeing to give the homily at this Mass, as well as for his invitation to me to celebrate Mass and give the homily last Friday in the Cathedral of Zagreb, marking the 25th anniversary of the day of burial of Cardinal Šeper in the Cathedral crypt.

I am grateful too for the presence of Cardinal Tomko, who worked with Cardinal Šeper as Capo Ufficio in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the for presence of Cardinals Re, of Archbishop Amato, Secretary of the Congregation, of Archbishop De Magistris and Bishop Girotti, co-workers with Cardinal Šeper, and the other Bishops, Prelates, Priests, Religious and lay coworkers of the Cardinal. In particular, I greet and welcome the Bishops of Croatia here present: Archbishop Eterovic, Secretary for the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Skvorcevic of Pozega, and Bishop Mrzljak and Bishop Kosic, Auxiliary Bishops of Zagreb.

The Episcopal motto of Cardinal Šeper was “Veritatem facientes in caritate”, words taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (4:15). In the years during which I worked under him as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I thought they described his life and his service of the Church perfectly. May our presence and our prayer here today do honor to his memory, and witness to future generations in the Church a priest on the foundations of whose ministry our work today is able to be nourished by the same words of the Apostle, “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love” (Eph 4:15-6).