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Etchegaray served as Archbishop of Marseille (1970-1985) before entering the Roman Curia, where he served as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1984-1998) and President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (1984-1995). He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1979.
Etchegaray came to the attention of an international audience on Christmas Eve 2009 when he was seriously injured in an unsuccessful attack on Pope Benedict XVI as they processed into Mass at St Peter's Basilica. Etchegaray had to be hospitalised with broken bones.
Early life and ordination
Etchegaray was born in the Northern Basque Country to Jean-Batiste and Aurélie Etchegaray. The eldest of three children, he has two younger siblings, Jean and Maïté; their father worked as an agricultural mechanic.
He attended the minor seminary in Ustaritz and the major seminary in Bayonne before studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from where he obtained a Licentiate of Sacred Theology and a Doctorate of Canon Law. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Jean Saint-Pierre on July 13, 1947.
Priest and Bishop
He then did pastoral work in the Diocese of Bayonne, also serving as secretary to Bishop Léon-Albert Terrier, secretary general of the diocesan works of Catholic Action, and vicar general. He then served as deputy director (1961-1966) and later secretary general (1966-1970) of the French Episcopal Conference.
On March 29, 1969, Etchegaray was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Paris and Titular Bishop of Gemellae in Numidia by Pope Paul VI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 27 from Cardinal François Marty, with Cardinal Paul Gouyon and Bishop Władysław Rubin serving as co-consecrators, at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Archbishop and Cardinal
Etchegaray was the Archbishop of Marseille from 1970–1985, and was made Cardinal Priest of S. Leone I by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 1979. Cardinal Etchegaray was the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1984–1998, and the President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum from 1984–1995. In 1995 he was appointed Cardinal Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina, and was elected Vice-Dean following the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Etchegaray is the longest-serving cardinal to have never participated in a papal conclave. On November 26, 2008 he overtook in this respect Giacomo Antonelli, longtime cardinal secretary of state to Pope Pius IX. He turned eighty on 25 September 2002, becoming ineligible to enter a conclave to choose a pope, and so did not participate in the 2005 conclave, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Injuries sustained during Papal attack
On December 24, 2009, Cardinal Etchegaray was knocked down along with Pope Benedict XVI when 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo jumped over a barrier and grappled with the Pope as he processed through St Peter's Basilica for Christmas Eve mass. The Pontiff appeared to be unhurt, but Etchegaray suffered a broken leg and a broken hip in the process. He had been standing a few metres away from the Pope and was knocked down in the scuffle. He needs surgery to correct his bones; this is expected to happen at Gemelli Hospital, Rome. The Vatican claimed Maiolo was "psychologically unstable" and had already lunged at the Pope before. The attack shocked the Catholic world but there was relief when it emerged the Pope had not been hurt.
U.S. invasion of Iraq
Relations with China
When Etchegaray visited China for a "Symposium on Religions and Peace" (September 12-19, 2000) he said that he recognized the fidelity to the Pope of the Catholics of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). The CCPA constitution explicitly rejects submission to the Pope and declares itself to be autonomous from Rome.
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