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Pio Taofinu'u, S. M. (December 8, 1923 – January 20, 2006) was a Roman Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Samoa-Apia. He was not only the first Pacific Islander to be appointed a cardinal, but also the first Pacific Islander to be appointed a bishop.
Savaii Pio Taofinu'u was born on December 8, 1923 in the village of Falealupo, in what is now Samoa. He attended the Falealupo catechism school before entering the Moamoa Theological College. He continued his studies first at the Seminary of Lano, on Wallis Island and later at the Marist Seminary in Greenmeadows (near Napier, in New Zealand).
After ordination, Taofinu'u worked at Leauvaa and Palauli in Samoa, before going to New York and later returning to Samoa in 1962. Father Taofinu'u accompanied Bishop George Hamilton Pearce, S.M., the then Bishop of Apia (which was later to become the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia) to the Second Vatican Council in Rome. He remained in Rome for three months, taking advantage of his time overseas to visit the Holy Land. After serving as Vicar to Bishop Pearce from 1964, Father Taofinu'u became Vicar General of the diocese in 1966.
On January 11, 1968, he was named Bishop of Apia, becoming the first Polynesian bishop ever. He was consecrated as Bishop of Apia, Samoa by his former bishop George Pearce, who was the new Archbishop of Suva, Fiji. One of his first duties as the new spiritual leader of Samoa's Catholic community was as one of the organizers of Pope Paul VI's November 30, 1970, visit to the Samoan Islands - the first and, to date, the only visit by a Pope. During his time as Bishop of Apia, Catholic schools increased as he put an important focus on education throughout his diocese. He established a Theological College for Catechists and Deacons in an effort to evangelize the Faith to all the islands. His work contributed greatly to an increase in priestly vocations in Samoa. As bishop, Taofinu'u was active in leading the reforms within the Catholic Church in Samoa in which some aspects of Samoan culture were blended with the existing practices.
Archbishop and cardinal
Taofinu'u was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of March 5, 1973. He participated in the 1978 papal conclaves of August, and October. He became the first Archbishop of Samoa-Apia, when the Diocese of Samoa-Apia and Tokelau (as it was then), was elevated to the rank of archdiocese.
Cardinal Taofinu'u presided over the first Synod of the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, which began on December 7, 1990 and ended on December 14, 1990. After careful discussion and consideration, Taofinu'u approved six synodal acts from his Commission on Worship, Sacraments and Inculturation.The second of these six acts states "O le faaaganuuga o le Tapuaika auaufaatasi i le Puleaga Faaakiepikopo o Samoa - Apia ia faaauauina le tilotilo toto‘a i ai ma le toe iloiloinaina ma o lona faatinoga ia lanutasia i le puleaga atoa" or "[t]he inculturation of the Liturgy in the Archdiocese of Samoa - Apia is to be continually reviewed and reevaluated, and its implementation should be uniform through the archdiocese." As a result of these acts, the liturgies in the archdiocese were vibrant, become more meaningful to the people by making use of the signs and cultural symbols of the people of Samoa. During his episcopate, a new hymnal incorporating old and new hymns for the liturgy was also prepared and published for use through the ecclesiastical province of Samoa-Apia.