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Dino Staffa

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Dino Staffa
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
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Dino Staffa (August 14, 1906—August 7, 1977) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 1967 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1967.


Early life and ordination

Dino Staffa was born in Santa Maria in Fabriago, Lugo, to Domenico and Emilia (née Gualandi) Staffa. He studied at the seminary in Imola from 1917 to 1922, and then entered the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Bologna, where the future Marcello Cardinal Mimmi was rector. After earning his doctorate in theology, Staffa was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Paolino Tribbioli, OFM Cap, on May 25, 1929.

Pastoral work

He then did pastoral work in Imola until 1931, and furthered his studies at the Pontifical Roman Athenaeum S. Apollinare in Rome, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon and civil law in 1933. After continuing his pastoral ministry in Rome from 1933 to 1950, Staffa was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on January 4, 1936.

Curial work

He taught history of canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University from 1941 to 1944, when he was made Auditor of the Roman Rota in the Roman Curia on November 20. Staffa was named Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities on December 18, 1958. In this position, he would serve as the second-highest official of that dicastery, under Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo.


On September 3, 1960, Staffa was appointed Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Palaestina in association with his post as Secretary of Seminaries and Universities. He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 28 from Pope John XXIII himself, with Archbishop Diego Venini and Bishop Benigno Carrara serving as co-consecrators, in St. Peter's Basilica. From 1962 to 1965, Staffa attended the Second Vatican Council.


Pope Paul VI, whose reign Staffa predicted to be "truly great"[1], later named him as Pro-Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on April 7, 1967, and created him Cardinal Priest of S. Cuore di Cristo Re in the consistory of June 26, 1967.

Staffa became full Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on March 26, 1969. In 1972, the Cardinal lowered the high costs involved in receiving an annulment from the Roman Rota[2].

Staffa was made Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva on May 24, 1976, and later died in Rome seven days short of his 71st birthday. He was buried in his family's tomb in Massa Lombarda.


Catholic universities

The Archbishop was believed to have written a decree issued by his Congregation on May 25, 1963 that demanded that Catholic universities receive the Vatican's approval before awarding honorary degrees[3].

Hans Küng

After St. Louis University granted an honorary doctorate of laws to the liberal theologian Hans Küng, Staffa claimed that Catholic universities had been giving out several honorary degrees to those "not worthy of merit". He also said that "there are many periti of the Council who speak stupidities" and that "if we give honorary doctorates to him, it would seem that we approve his ideas"[4].


Not overly supportive of collegiality, Staffa once declared that "supreme power over the entire flock of the faithful was entrusted to Peter and Peter alone"[5].


  1. TIME Magazine. Reluctant Revolutionary September 24, 1965
  2. TIME Magazine. Rota Revolt November 13, 1972
  3. TIME Magazine. Clear It with the Vatican September 20, 1963
  4. Ibid.
  5. TIME Magazine. Council on the Move November 8, 1963

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Preceded by
Carlo Confalonieri
Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities
Succeeded by
Joseph Schröffer
Preceded by
Francesco Roberti
Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura
Succeeded by
Pericle Felici
no:Dino Staffa

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