Ivan Dias

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His Eminence
Ivan Dias
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Dias (left) at a 2005 Christmas Mass in Mumbai
See Bombay (emeritus)
Appointed 20 May 2006
Term ended 10 May 2011
Predecessor Crescenzio Sepe
Successor Fernando Filoni
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Spirito Santo alla Ferratella
Ordination 8 December 1958
by Valerian Gracias
Consecration 19 June 1982
by Agostino Casaroli
Created Cardinal 21 February 2001
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Ivan Dias
Born (1936-04-14) 14 April 1936 (age 80)
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Nationality Indian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto Servus (Servant)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Ivan Dias (born 14 April 1936) is an Indian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2006 to 2011, having previously served as Archbishop of Bombay (1996–2006) and papal diplomat in the Balkans, East Asia, and West Africa. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.


Early life and ordination[edit]

Ivan Dias was born in Bandra, a suburb of Bombay, to Carlo Nazaro Dias (d. 1953) and Maria Martins Dias (d. 1991), both Goans. Cardinal Ivan Dias' ancestral village is Velsao in Salcete, Goa; his father was undersecretary of the Home Department of the government of Maharashtra.[1] The second oldest of four children, he has three brothers: Francis (a retired lieutenant general in the Indian military), Ralph, and Olaf (a doctor). After graduating from the Jesuit St. Stanislaus High School, he entered the seminary of the Archdiocese of Bombay and was later ordained to the priesthood by Valerian Gracias on 8 December 1958.[2] He then did pastoral work in Bombay as curate at St. Stephen's Church until 1961, when he was sent to Rome to further his studies. He there attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Pontifical Lateran University, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon law in 1964.[3]

Secretariat of State[edit]

Dias worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State preparing the 1964 visit of Pope Paul VI to India, during which he was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on 4 December.[3] From 1965 to 1973, he served as secretary of the nunciatures in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Indonesia, Madagascar, Réunion, the Comoro Islands and Mauritius. Returning to the Secretariat of State in Vatican City, he was head of the section for the Soviet Union, the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania until 1982.[3]

Nuncio and bishop[edit]

On 8 May 1982, Dias was appointed Titular Archbishop of Rusibisir and Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Ghana, Togo and Benin by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 19 June from Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, with Archbishops Achille Silvestrini and Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy serving as co-consecrators, at St. Peter's Basilica.[2] He selected as his episcopal motto: "Servus" (Latin: "Servant").[4] Dias was later named Apostolic Nuncio to Korea on 20 June 1987, and Apostolic Nuncio to Albania on 28 October 1991. In Albania, he was charged with rebuilding the local church after nearly five decades of communist rule, inviting foreign missionaries to the country and working with the Albanian government to recover Catholic churches and schools.[5]

Styles of
Ivan Dias
Coat of arms of Ivan Dias.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Bombay (Emeritus)


Recalled from the Vatican's diplomatic service, Dias was appointed the ninth Archbishop of Bombay on 8 November 1996.[2] He was an outspoken supporter of the controversial 2000 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Dominus Iesus, which declared that non-Catholics "are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation."[6] Dias said the document was "a reaffirmation...[that] Jesus is the only savior of the world. We have a right to say who we are, and others can accept it or not."[5]


John Paul II created him Cardinal-Priest of Spirito Santo alla Ferratella in the consistory of 21 February 2001.[3] He was shortly afterwards named to the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See on 10 March 2001, and served as one of the three presidents at the 10th Ordinary Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops from September to October 2001.[3]

In 2003, he delivered the homily at the beatification Mass of Mother Teresa, whom Dias had befriended during his tenure as a nuncio in Albania; he once said, "Reaching out to our fellow human beings, embracing the poor as Mother Teresa did, must become a common service for every Christian."[4] Lamenting the domination of the world "by information technology, by New Age teaching and by the decline of ethical values," Dias once stated that entire countries are being "crushed down by godless ideologies and enticing proposals that exalt the anti-God cultures, including the culture of death."[5]

He was one of the Cardinals considered papabile at the 2005 Papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. TIME Magazine noted his "[s]trong diplomatic experience" and said his election "would represent a bold choice from the developing world."[7]

On 20 May 2006, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the top post overseeing the Catholic missions, a post whose holder was once known as the "Red Pope", due to the extent of his authority over the Church in mission lands. He was also ex officio the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University. His resignation, presented on reaching 75 years of age, was published on 10 May 2011, when he was succeeded by Fernando Filoni.

Cardinal Dias is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He will hold these memberships until his 80th birthday.

He was also one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that selected Pope Francis.


Anti-Christian violence[edit]

During his tenure as Archbishop, Dias frequently condemned anti-Christian discrimination in Indian society by Hindu fundamentalists. In December 2001, he invited leaders of all Bombay's religious communities to his home for "a meeting for peace in a world torn apart by war and hatred."[5] In 2002, he denounced pressures put by Indian authorities on Catholic schools, which have "had to put up with uncooperative and abusive public officials as well intimidation."

Abortion and homosexuality[edit]

Dias also established himself as theologically conservative, strongly maintaining the Church's stances against abortion and homosexuality.[8][9] He believes that gays and lesbians can be "cured" of their "unnatural tendencies" through the Sacrament of Penance.[5]

Anglican communion[edit]

During a speech he gave at the Lambeth Conference, his unequivocal language laid bare his disapproval of the chaos sweeping through the world's third biggest Christian denomination. He said: "When we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer's. [...] or ecclesial Parkinson's".[10]


  1. ^ "'I am upset at the media hype'". Mid-day.com. 4 April 2005. 
  2. ^ a b c "Ivan Cardinal Dias". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Miranda, Salvador. "DIAS, Ivan". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  4. ^ a b "Card. Ivan Dias". Asia News. 3 October 2005. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Variety of experience gives cardinal from India high profile". Catholic News Service. 1 April 2005. 
  6. ^ "Dominus Iesus". Holy See. 6 August 2000. 
  7. ^ Israely, Jeff (17 April 2005). "Our Top Ten Papal Candidates". TIME Magazine. 
  8. ^ "Our cardinal in the Vatican". Indian Express. 13 April 2005. 
  9. ^ Bradley Hagerty, Barbara (19 April 2005). "Potential Successors to Pope John Paul II". National Public Radio. 
  10. ^ Cardinal accuses Anglican Communion of 'spiritual Alzheimer's'

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Crescenzio Sepe
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
20 May 2006 – 10 May 2011
Succeeded by
Fernando Filoni
Preceded by
Simon Pimenta
Archbishop of Bombay
8 November 1996 – 20 May 2006
Succeeded by
Oswald Gracias