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Jozef Tomko

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Jozef Tomko (born 11 March 1924) is a Slovak Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1985.


Early life and ordination

Jozef Tomko was born in Udavské, near Humenné, in Czechoslovakia (now part of the Republic of Slovakia). He studied at the Theological Faculty of Bratislava, and then traveled to Rome to study at the Pontifical Lateran Athenaeum and Pontifical Gregorian University, from where he obtained his doctorates in theology, canon law, and social sciences. Tomko was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Luigi Traglia on March 12, 1949.

Pastoral and academic work

He later did pastoral work in Rome and Porto e Santa Rufina until 1979. From 1950 to 1965, he served as vice-rector and later rector of the Pontifical Nepomucenum College. He taught at the International University Pro Deo from 1955 to 1956 as well. He co-founded the religious journal of the Institute of SS Cyril and Methodius, and became a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Roman Curia

Tomko was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain supernumerary on December 5, 1959, and entered the service of the Roman Curia in 1962, as an adjunct in the Book Censorship Section of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In reference to the more lenient measures taken against dissident theologians, he once remarked, "The electric chair and gas chamber are no more"[1]. Tomko became an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on June 17, 1970. In addition to his academic duties, he was named Undersecretary of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops in 1974.


On July 12, 1979, Tomko was appointed Secretary General of the World Synod of Bishops and Titular Archbishop of Doclea by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 15 from John Paul II himself, with Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Bishop Andrew Gregory Grutka serving as co-consecrators. Tomko was later named Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on April 24, 1985.


John Paul II created him Cardinal Deacon of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola in the consistory of May 25 of that same year. On the following May 27, Tomko rose to become full Prefect of the congregation (an office once known as the "Red Pope" for its influence) and thus Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University. Throughout his tenure, the Cardinal became a close confidant of Pope John Paul, and served as a special papal envoy to several religious celebrations and events to an array of different countries. He was named a member of the Presynodal Council for Special Synod of Asian Bishops in September 1995. After ten years' standing as a Cardinal Deacon, he opted for order of Cardinal Priests (assuming the titular church of S. Sabina) on January 29, 1996.

Eucharistic congresses

Tomko was appointed President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses on October 23, 2001, ending his sixteen-year-long tenure as Prefect of Evangelization of Peoples. In this post, he presided over the Holy See's delegation to the Interreligious Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, from September 23 to September 24, 2003. He lost the right to participate in any future papal conclaves upon reaching the age of eighty on March 11, 2004.

Upon the death of John Paul II on April 2, 2005, Tomko and all major Vatican officials, in accord with custom, automatically lost their positions during the sede vacante. He was later confirmed as President of International Eucharistic Congresses by Pope Benedict XVI on the following April 21. The Cardinal later retired his post as President on October 1, 2007.


  1. TIME Magazine. No More Heresy February 15, 1971

External links

Preceded by
Władysław Rubin
Secretary General of the World Synod of Bishops
Succeeded by
Jan Pieter Schotte, CICM
Preceded by
Dermot Ryan
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Succeeded by
Crescenzio Sepe
Preceded by
Édouard Gagnon, PSS
President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
Succeeded by
Piero Marini
cs:Jozef Tomkono:Jozef Tomkoru:Томко, Йозеф

sk:Jozef Tomko fi:Jozef Tomko

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