Franjo Šeper

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His Eminence

Franjo Šeper
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archbishop of Zagreb
ChurchRoman Catholic
Appointed8 January 1968
Term ended25 November 1981
PredecessorAlojzije Stepinac
SuccessorFranjo Kuharić
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of SS Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense
Ordination26 October 1930
by Giuseppe Palica
Consecration21 September 1954
by Josip Ujčić
Created cardinal22 February 1965
Personal details
Born(1905-10-02)2 October 1905
Died30 December 1981(1981-12-30) (aged 76)
Rome, Italy
NationalityCroatian (Yugoslavian)
Previous post(s)
Coat of armsFranjo Šeper's coat of arms

Franjo Šeper (2 October 1905 – 30 December 1981) was a Croatian prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1968 to 1981, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965. Before that, he served as the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1960 to 1969.


Born in Osijek, in the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia (present-day Croatia), he and his family moved to Zagreb in 1910; his father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress. He started his seminary studies in Zagreb then at the Pontifical Gregorian University) in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Giuseppe Palica on 26 October 1930.

His first pastoral assignments were in the Archdiocese of Zagreb and, in 1934, was appointed private secretary to the Archbishop. In 1941, father Šeper became the rector of the archdiocesan seminary, a post which he held for the next decade. On 22 July 1954 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Zagreb and Titular Archbishop of Philippopolis; he received his episcopal consecration on the following 21 September from Archbishop Josip Ujčić of Belgrade.

He succeeded Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as Archbishop of Zagreb on 5 March 1960, and was created Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of 22 February 1965.

Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith[edit]

He was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on 8 January 1968. Šeper was also the President of the International Theological Commission from its inception in April 1969, and the author of the 1973 document Mysterium Ecclesiae,[1] which was written in order to re-orient the ecclesiology of the post-Vatican II period.

After the first meeting held on 11 April 1969 in the convent of the Divine Master in Ariccia, in the Vatican he supervised the development of work on the ecumenical dialogue between the Church and Freemasonry.[2]

In 1974, the Congregation published a "Declaration on procured abortion", re-asserting the Church's opposition to the procedure since the publication of Humanae Vitae. It later published the document Persona Humana[3] on the topic of sexual ethics.

In 1976, he was responsible for writing the statement Inter Insigniores, which firmly rejected the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. Inter Insigniores does not apply to the question of ordaining women as deacons in the Catholic Churches. In 1980, he also wrote the CDF's declaration on Euthanasia, explaining the Church's view on ending life.[citation needed]

Šeper was a cardinal elector in the August and October conclaves of 1978.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

Pope John Paul II accepted Šeper's resignation as Prefect on 25 November 1981. He died on 30 December in Gemelli Hospital, where he had been hospitalized for a month.[4] John Paul presided at his funeral Mass, and Šeper's body was later transferred to Zagreb, where it is buried beside the tomb of Cardinal Stepinac.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration in Defense of the Catholic Doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, published 24 June 1973, accessed 16 November 2021
  2. ^ Sandro Magister (19 August 1999). "Tra il papa e il massone non c'è comunione". L'Espresso.
  3. ^ Persona Humana,; accessed 18 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Cardinal Seper Dies in Rome; Vatican Guardian of the Faith". The New York Times. 31 December 1981. Retrieved 8 August 2017.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Zagreb
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Titular Church Created
Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense
Succeeded by