His Eminence 
William Wakefield Baum
Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary
See Washington (emeritus)
Enthroned April 6, 1990
Reign ended November 22, 2001
Predecessor Luigi Dadaglio
Successor Luigi de Magistris
Ordination May 12, 1951
Consecration April 6, 1970
Created Cardinal May 24, 1976
Other Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1980-90)
Archbishop of Washington (1973-80)
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (1970-73)
Personal details
Birth name William White
Born November 21, 1926 (1926-11-21) (age 90)
Dallas, Texas
Styles of
William Baum
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Washington (emeritus)

William Wakefield Baum (born November 21, 1926) is an American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (1970-1973) and Archbishop of Washington (1973-1980) before serving in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1980-1990) and Major Penitentiary (1990-2001). He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1976, and is currently the longest-serving cardinal from the United States.


Early life and ordination

William Wakefield White was born in Dallas, Texas, to Harold E. and Mary Leona (née Hayes) White. His father, a Presbyterian, died when William was a young child, and afterward he moved with his mother to Kansas City, Missouri. His mother married Jerome C. Baum, a Jewish businessman, who adopted the child and gave him his last name. He received his early education at St. Peter's parochial school, and began to serve as an altar boy at age ten. He entered St. John's Minor Seminary in 1940, then studied philosophy at Glennon College in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1947, he entered Kenrick Seminary, also in St. Louis. Ordained a priest on 12 May 1951, he spent his early church career in Missouri.

Priest and bishop

A privy chamberlain from 1961, from 1962 to 1965 he served as both vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and as an "expert" at the Second Vatican Council. He later became chancellor of that diocese before being named a bishop himself, heading the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau from 1970.

Archbishop and Cardinal

Three years later Pope Paul VI elevated him to Archbishop of Washington, D.C. (his successor in Springfield-Cape Girardeau being Bernard Francis Law, another future cardinal); and in the consistory of 1976 Baum was named Cardinal-Priest of S. Croce in via Flaminia. He participated in the two conclaves of 1978[1].

Under Pope John Paul II, Baum's rise continued, as in 1980 he was named to the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. In 1990 he became the Church's Major Penitentiary, exchanging the responsibility of overseeing church seminaries worldwide for that of supervising the office in charge of the forgiveness of sins.

Baum was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. Along with Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) and Cardinal Jaime Sin, he was one of three remaining cardinals elevated by Paul VI to retain voting rights in that conclave - though two more who had already died many years before John Paul, António Ribeiro and Emile Biayenda, would have been eligible to vote had they remained alive. He was the senior Cardinal Priest to participate in the 2005 papal conclave[2].

Later life

Somewhat frail in recent years, he has suffered from deteriorating eyesight. His resignation as Penitentiary was accepted the day after his 75th birthday in 2001, but he has remained active in Rome to the extent that his health permits, and attended the meeting of American cardinals called to deal with the sex abuse scandal in 2003.

With the election of Ratzinger as pope on April 19, 2005, Baum became the last cardinal elevated by Pope Paul VI to maintain voting rights in a papal conclave. Since Baum reached the age of 80 on November 21, 2006, all cardinals who may vote in a conclave have been elevated by Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI.

Only one American Cardinal in history (James Gibbons) has a longer cardinalate than Baum. If Cardinal Baum has not died by March 8, 2011, he will surpass Gibbons as the longest-serving American cardinal of all time. (On October 25, 2008, he passed William Henry O'Connell as the second longest-serving American Cardinal.)


Episcopal Succession

Episcopal Lineage
Consecrated by: John Carberry
Date of consecration: April 6, 1970
Consecrator of
Bishop Date of consecration
Thomas William Lyons September 12, 1974
Eugene Antonio Marino September 12, 1974
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Ignatius Jerome Strecker
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Succeeded by
Bernard Francis Law
Preceded by
Patrick O'Boyle
Archbishop of Washington
Succeeded by
James Hickey
Preceded by
Gabriel-Marie Garrone
Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Succeeded by
Pio Laghi
Preceded by
Luigi Dadaglio
Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Succeeded by
Luigi de Magistris
no:William Wakefield Baumpt:William Wakefield Baum

ru:Баум, Уильям Уэйкфилд fi:William Wakefield Baum

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.