Darío Castrillón Hoyos

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Castrillón and the second or maternal family name is Hoyos.
His Eminence
Darío Castrillón Hoyos
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardenal Darío Castrillon.jpg
Appointed 15 June 1996
Term ended 31 October 2006
Predecessor Jose Tomas Sanchez
Successor Cláudio Hummes
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of SS. Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano
Ordination 26 October 1952
by Alfonso Carinci
Consecration 18 July 1971
by Ángelo Palmas
Created Cardinal 21 February 1998
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1929-07-04) 4 July 1929 (age 86)
Medellín, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Denomination Roman Catholic
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Motto Christus in vobis spes gloriae
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Darío del Niño Jesús Castrillón Hoyos (born 4 July 1929) is a Colombian cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1996 to 2006, and is the president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei having served from 2000 until his retirement in 2009. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1998.

Early life[edit]

Born in Medellín, Colombia, Castrillón Hoyos attended the seminaries in Antioquia and Santa Rosa de Osos before going to Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Alfonso Carinci on 26 October 1952, in the basilica of Ss. XII Apostoli. He finished his studies at the Gregorian, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon law and specialization in religious sociology, political economics, and ethical economics. Castrillón Hoyos also studied at the Sociology Faculty of the University of Louvain in Belgium.

Upon returning to Colombia, he served as a curate for two rural parishes in Yarumal from 1954 to 1971. He then served as director of Cursillos, of the national pastoral program, and of the Legion of Mary. After becoming an official in the diocesan curia of Santa Rosa de Osos, Castrillón was made director of radiophonic schools. In 1959 he became the diocesan delegate of Catholic Action, and also worked as ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic Workers Youth. He did catechetical and curial work before serving as general secretary of the Colombian Episcopal Conference.


On 2 June 1971, Castrillón Hoyos was appointed Coadjutor bishop of Pereira and Titular bishop of Villa Regis by Pope Paul VI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 18 July from Archbishop Ángelo Palmas, with Archbishop Aníbal Muñoz Duque and Bishop Baltasar Álvarez Restrepo serving as co-consecrators. Castrillón Hoyos succeeded Alvarez Restrepo as Bishop of Pereira on 1 July 1976.

During his time as Bishop of Pereira, Castrillón Hoyos was reported to have walked the streets at night to help feed abandoned children.[1] While many Latin American bishops refused to accept contributions from suspected drug lords, Castrillón Hoyos accepted donations for his diocese's charities, arguing that by accepting the funds, they would be diverted from funding crime and instead used to help the poor and needy. He said that when accepting such donations, he had warned the donors personally that their donations "would not save their souls".[1] Castrillón Hoyos once disguised himself as a milkman to gain access to the home of drug lord Pablo Escobar, and after revealing himself, the bishop successfully persuaded Escobar to confess his sins.[1][2] Castrillón Hoyos also served as Secretary General (1983–1987) and then president (1987–1991) of the Latin American Episcopal Conference, where he took a hard line stance opposing liberation theology, which was popular among leftist Latin American bishops at that time.

Castrillón Hoyos was advanced to Archbishop of Bucaramanga on 16 December 1992. He remained in that post until 15 June 1996, when he became Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Roman Curia. In this capacity, he was responsible for the celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's priestly ordination that November.

Styles of
Darío Castrillón Hoyos
Escudo Dario Castrillon Hoyos.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Bucaramanga (Emeritus)


John Paul II created him Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano in the consistory of 21 February 1998. Two days later, on 23 February, Castrillón Hoyos was promoted to full Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. On 26 October of that same year he served as papal envoy to the signing of the peace accord between Peru and Ecuador to settle their border dispute. During his tenure as Prefect, he expressed his disapproval of the zero-tolerance policy of the American bishops towards paedophile priests, saying that the bishops ignored such "fundamental principles of the Church" as forgiveness and conversion.[3] On 14 April 2000, he replaced Angelo Felici as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Curial office that handles the Vatican's relations with Traditionalist groups such as the Society of St. Pius X.

Upon the death of John Paul II on 2 April 2005, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and all major Vatican officials, in accord with custom, automatically lost their positions during the sede vacante. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected John Paul's successor Pope Benedict XVI, and was himself considered papabile—a possible successor to the papacy. Pope Benedict later confirmed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on the following 21 April.

On 31 October 2006, the Cardinal resigned as head of the Congregation for the Clergy, but remained as President of Ecclesia Dei. He became Protodeacon, or the senior Cardinal-Deacon, on 23 February 2007, and later participated in the May 2007 general conference of the Latin American Episcopal Conference, also attended by Pope Benedict, in Brazil. On 27 June 2007, Castrillón, along with several other prelates, attended a briefing at the Apostolic Palace on Pope Benedict's impending motu proprio granting greater freedom to the Tridentine Mass.[4] On 1 March 2008 Castrillón was elevated to Cardinal-Priest. His titular deaconry Ss. Nominis Mariae ad forum Traiani (Italian: Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano) was elevated pro hac vice to title. Hoyos' successor as Cardinal protodeacon is Agostino Cacciavillan.

He was appointed Grand Prior of the Constantinian Order of St George by HRH Infante don Carlos, Duke of Calabria, on 27 February 2004. On 13 September 2007 Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos was interviewed by Vatican Radio about the implementation of Pope Benedict's motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.[5]


Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos retired on 8 July 2009. On the same day, Pope Benedict issued the motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, which attached the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As a result of the motu proprio, William Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, became ex officio the President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.[6]

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that it was a "calumny" to say that he had been informed of Richard Williamson's negationist views, in response to allegations by Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm that the Holy See had prior knowledge of the controversy. He has argued that if anyone in the Vatican should have known about the matter, it was not himself but rather Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, due to the fact that Re is Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, which is responsible for matters relating to non-missionary Latin-Rite ordinaries.[7][8]

View on denouncing a paedophile priest to the civil authorities[edit]

When heading the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos congratulated a French bishop in a 2001 letter for not denouncing a sexually abusive priest to the police.[9] In the letter dated 8 September 2001, Cardinal Castrillón backed French Bishop Pierre Pican's decision not to denounce a priest who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for repeated rape of a boy and sexual assaults on 10 others. Pican, who received a suspended three-month jail sentence for not denouncing sexual abuse of minors, admitted in court he had kept Rev. René Bissey in parish work despite the fact the priest had admitted in the confessional committing pedophile acts. "I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Castrillón Hoyos wrote. "You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest." The letter cited Vatican documents and an epistle of Saint Paul to bolster its argument about special bishop-priest links.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi did not dispute the letter's authenticity, but said it confirmed "how opportune it was to centralize treatment of Catholic sex abuse cases by clerics under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." Castrillón Hoyos justified his actions, saying Pope John Paul II authorised him to send the letter. "After consulting the Pope, I wrote a letter to the bishop, congratulating him as a model of a father who does not turn in his children," he said.[10]

The full text of the letter[11] translated into English is:


The Vatican, 8 September 2001

Most Reverend Excellency

I write to you as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy entrusted with aiding the Holy Father is his responsibility for the priests of the world.

I congratulate you on not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities. You have acted wisely, and I am delighted to have a fellow member of the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of other bishops, would prefer to go to prison rather than denounce his priest-son

For the relationship between priests and their bishop is not professional but a sacramental relationship which forges very special bonds of spiritual paternity. The matter was amply taken up again by the last Council, by the 1971 Synod of Bishops and that of 1991. The bishop has other means of acting, as the Conference of French Bishops recently restated; but a bishop cannot be required to make the denunciation himself. In all civilised legal systems it is acknowledged that close relations have the possibility of not testifying against a direct relative.

In this regard we remind you of the words of Saint Paul "So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Philippians 1, v 13–14)

This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.

Assuring you of my fraternal closeness in the Lord, I send my greetings to you, your auxiliary and your whole diocese

(Castrillón's signature)

To His Most Reverend Excellency
SE Mgr Pierre Pican
Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux

Irish cases[edit]

In January 2011 it was revealed that in 1997, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos expressed to the Irish bishops reservations of the Congregation of the Clergy, which he headed, concerning the proposals contained in a document of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Advisory Committee entitled "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response".[12]

While indicating that the Congregation was still studying the question and would "at the appropriate time" establish "some concrete directives", it remarked that some of the proposals in the document "appear contrary to canonical discipline", so that actions taken in accordance with them could be overturned if an appeal were made to a higher level; accordingly the Congregation emphasized "the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force."[12]

It mentioned in particular, as giving rise to "serious reservations of a moral and canonical nature" the proposed policy of mandatory reporting to the civil authorities.[12]

Irish television network RTE aired on 17 January 2011 a report under the title "Unspeakable Crimes",[13] which dealt with this and other disagreements between the Irish bishops and Castrillón on the proper treatment of priests accused of sex abuse. The documentary offered strong support for former Archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell, who had been the target of savage criticism, and put a new perspective on the efforts of the Irish hierarchy in general. It reported that in 1999 Castrillón told the Irish bishops to be "fathers to your priests, not policemen". The programme also highlighted policy differences between the Congregation for Clergy and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (then Pope Benedict XVI), which in 2001 secured that that all such allegations should be handled by it, not by the other congregation. The programme was devastating in its presentation of Cardinal Castrillón.[14]


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
José Tomás Sánchez
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
15 June 1996–31 October 2006
Succeeded by
Cláudio Hummes OFM
Preceded by
Angelo Felici
President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
14 April 2000–8 July 2009
Succeeded by
William Joseph Levada
Preceded by
Jorge Medina Estévez
Cardinal Protodeacon
23 February 2007–1 March 2008
Succeeded by
Agostino Cacciavillan