His Eminence 
John Francis Dearden
Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit
See Detroit (emeritus)
Enthroned December 18, 1958
Reign ended July 15, 1980
Predecessor Edward Mooney
Successor Edmund Szoka
Ordination December 8, 1932
Consecration May 18, 1948
Created Cardinal April 28, 1969
Other Bishop of Pittsburgh (1950-58)
Personal details
Born October 15, 1907(1907-10-15)
Valley Falls, Rhode Island
Died August 1, 1988 (aged 80)
Southfield, Michigan

John Francis Dearden (October 15, 1907 – August 1, 1988) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Detroit from 1958 to 1980, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969.


Early life and ordination

John Francis Dearden was born in Valley Falls, Rhode Island to John Sidney Dearden and his wife Agnes Gregory. He attended elementary school at Holy Trinity School and later at St. Philomena School in Cleveland, Ohio, where his family moved in 1918.

Dearden also studied at Cathedral Latin School and the archdiocesan St. Mary's Seminary. Dearden did graduate work in Rome at the North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University. On December 8, 1932, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani, and then finished his studies in 1934.

Priest and bishop

Dearden served in parish assignments in Ohio until 1937, when he was named a professor of philosophy at St. Mary Seminary, of which he was rector from 1944 to 1948. He was raised to the rank of Monsignor on July 19, 1945.

On March 13, 1948, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Pittsburgh and Titular Bishop of Sarepta. Dearden received his episcopal consecration on the following May 18 from Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, with Bishops Edward Hoban and Floyd Begin serving as co-consecrators.

Dearden's stern manner of administration during this time even earned him the nickname of "Iron John"[1]. He succeeded the late Hugh Charles Boyle as Bishop of Pittsburgh on December 22, 1950, and was later named Archbishop of Detroit on December 18, 1958.

Second Vatican Council

He attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. At the Council, Dearden became exceedingly more liberal in his views[2], and soon became a leading progressive voice in the Church.[3][4] He was dedicated to implementing the Council's reforms; particularly, he gave priests and the laity a greater participation in dealing with such matters as liturgy, education, and finances.[5].

From 1966 to 1971, Dearden served as the first President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.[6] He was also seen as one of the likely candidates to succeed Francis Spellman as Archbishop of New York.[7][8]


Pope Paul VI created him Cardinal Priest of S. Pio X alla Balduina in the consistory of April 28, 1969. During the 1971 Synod of Bishops in Vatican City, Dearden suggested that the sociological and psychological aspects of the priesthood be investigated.[9]

He was also one of the cardinal electors who participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II respectively. On July 15, 1980, he resigned as Detroit's archbishop, after twenty-one years of service.

Later life and death

Following the Watergate scandal, the Cardinal asked Catholics to observe the first three Fridays of November 1973 with prayer, penance, and fasting.[10]

Dearden died from pancreatic cancer in Southfield, Michigan, at age 80.[11] He is buried in Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery in the same city. Dearden once survived a heart attack.[12]


  1. TIME Magazine. A New Model from Detroit April 11, 1969
  2. Catholic New Times. Cardinal 'Iron John' Dearden: The 'Prince' Who Became a Servant February 2004
  3. TIME Magazine. Princely Promotions April 4, 1969
  4. TIME Magazine. A Healer for Catholics December 2, 1974
  5. Ibid.
  6. Democracy for Bishops November 25, 1966
  7. TIME Magazine. Choosing a Successor December 15, 1967
  8. TIME Magazine. Succession to Spellman March 15, 1968
  9. TIME Magazine. Strengthening Paul's Hand October 18, 1971
  10. TIME Magazine. Keep the Faith November 19, 1973
  11. The New York Times. John Cardinal Dearden, 80, Dies; Leading Liberal Voice in Church August 2, 1988
  12. TIME Magazine. The September Pope October 9, 1978

External links

Preceded by
Hugh Charles Boyle
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
John Joseph Wright
Preceded by
Edward Mooney
Archbishop of Detroit
Succeeded by
Edmund Szoka
no:John Francis Deardenfi:John Francis Dearden

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