His Eminence 
James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary Emeritus
James Cardinal Stafford.jpeg
See Denver (emeritus)
Enthroned October 4, 2003
Reign ended June 2, 2009
Predecessor Luigi de Magistris
Successor Fortunato Baldelli
Ordination December 15, 1957
Consecration February 29, 1976
Created Cardinal February 21, 1998
Other President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (1996-2003)
Archbishop of Denver (1986-96)
Personal details
Born July 26, 1932 (1932-07-26) (age 85)
Baltimore, Maryland
Styles of
James Stafford
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Denver (emeritus)

James Francis Stafford (born July 26, 1932) is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who from 2003 to 2009 was the Holy See's Major Penitentiary, heading the Apostolic Penitentiary, the tribunal of the Roman Curia that deals with matters of the internal forum. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1998.

Early life

James Stafford was born in in Baltimore, Maryland, as the only child of Francis Emmett, the owner of a successful furniture store, and Mary Dorothy (née Stanton) Stafford. He moved from Loyola High School in 1950 to Loyola College in Baltimore with the intent of pursuing a career in medicine, but in 1952, the violent death of a friend caused him to rethink his future and to enter St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, where he earned degrees in arts, theology, and social welfare.

From priest to cardinal

Stafford was ordained (along with Edward Egan another future cardinal) a priest by Bishop Martin John O'Connor on December 15, 1957. He was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and Titular Bishop of Respecta by Archbishop William Donald Borders on January 11, 1976.

In 1982 Stafford was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Memphis. Four years later he was named Archbishop of Denver, in which capacity he served for ten years before being called to Rome. Archbishop Stafford oversaw the events which took place at World Youth Day in 1993.

Named President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on August 20, 1996, he became Cardinal Deacon of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola in the consistory of 1998.

Activities as cardinal

In 2003, Cardinal Stafford was appointed Major Penitentiary, overseeing matters pertaining to indulgences and the internal forum of the Church. He was thus one of the highest ranking American members of the Roman Curia and the second to serve as Major Penitentiary, the other being William Wakefield Baum. The Major Penitentiary is one of the few Curia officials whose office is not automatically suspended upon the death of the pope, and is the only one allowed to be in contact with anyone outside the conclave.

In accordance with canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law, Cardinal Stafford submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his 75th birthday in 2007. On 2 June 2009 Pope Benedict appointed as his successor Fortunato Baldelli, who was then Apostolic Nuncio to France.[1]

Stafford was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. He remains eligible to vote in any future papal conclaves arising from the death of a Pope before his 80th birthday on 26 July 2012.

On 1 March 2008, Cardinal Stafford took the option, after ten years as a Cardinal Deacon, for promotion to the rank of Cardinal Priest, and was assigned the titular church of San Pietro in Montorio.[2]

Criticism of Barack Obama

The on-line version of the National Catholic Reporter reported on November 19, 2008 that Cardinal Stafford harshly criticized President-elect Barack Obama, saying he has "an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic."[3]

The story was first reported by The Tower, the student newspaper of the Catholic University of America, where Stafford made those remarks.

The Cardinal spoke on "Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul" in a lecture sponsored by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

Saying that the United States experienced a "cultural earthquake" when Obama was elected president November 4, 2008, Cardinal Stafford said the president-elect "appears to be a relaxed, smiling man" with rhetorical skills that are "very highly developed." "But under all that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a state of constant alertness, to attack and resist any external influence that might affect his will," he added. The cardinal compared the upcoming years of the Obama administration to "Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane."[4]

The Catholic News Agency revealed more details about the highly controversial words of the Cardinal on November 17, 2008: "If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” he said, contrasting the year of Humanae Vitae’s promulgation with this election year. “For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Cardinal Stafford told his audience.[5] Catholics who weep the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” should try to identify with Jesus, who during his agony in the garden was “sick because of love.” The Cardinal also attributed America’s decline to the Supreme Court’s decisions such as the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which imposed "permissive abortion laws nationwide."

See also


Preceded by
Carroll Thomas Dozier
Bishop of Memphis
Succeeded by
Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB
Preceded by
James Vincent Casey
Archbishop of Denver
Succeeded by
Charles Joseph Chaput, OFM Cap
Preceded by
Eduardo Francisco Pironio
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
Succeeded by
Stanislaw Rylko
Preceded by
Luigi de Magistris
Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Succeeded by
Fortunato Baldelli
la:Iacobus Franciscus Staffordno:James Francis Staffordpt:James Francis Stafford

ru:Стэффорд, Джеймс Фрэнсис fi:James Francis Stafford

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