Jozef Tomko

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Jozef Tomko
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
Tomko in 2018 at Zvir Mountain in Litmanová, Slovakia
Appointed23 October 2001
Term ended1 October 2007
PredecessorEdouard Gagnon
SuccessorPiero Marini
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of Santa Sabina
Ordination12 March 1949
by Luigi Traglia
Consecration15 September 1979
by John Paul II
Created cardinal25 May 1985
by John Paul II
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Born(1924-03-11)11 March 1924
Died8 August 2022(2022-08-08) (aged 98)
Rome, Italy
BuriedSt Elisabeth Cathedral, Košice
Previous post(s)
Motto"Ut ecclesia aedificetur"
Coat of armsJozef Tomko's coat of arms
Styles of
Jozef Tomko
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Jozef Tomko (11 March 1924 – 8 August 2022) was a Slovak prelate of the Catholic Church who held positions in the Roman Curia from 1962 until he retired in 2007. He was prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001 and president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses from 2001 to 2007. He was made a cardinal in 1985.


Early life and ordination[edit]

Jozef Tomko was born 11 March 1924 in Udavské, near Humenné, in Czechoslovakia (now in the Slovak Republic). In 1943 he entered the Theological Faculty of Bratislava. He was sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical Lateran Athenaeum and Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained his doctorates in theology, canon law, and social sciences.[1] Tomko was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Luigi Traglia on 12 March 1949 in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Pastoral and academic work[edit]

He continued his studies at the Lateran and Gregorian University while doing pastoral work in Rome and Porto e Santa Rufina until 1979. From 1950 to 1965, he served as vice-rector and later rector of the Pontifical Nepomucenum College.[1] He taught at the International University Pro Deo from 1955 to 1956 as well. During this period, Tomko was actively involved in establishment of the Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome. He visited the Slovak communities in the United States, Canada, and various European countries several times.[2] Tomko for decades regularly addressed Slovak Catholics on Vatican Radio and also on Catholic TV Lux.[citation needed]

Roman Curia[edit]

Tomko was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain supernumerary on 5 December 1959, and entered the service of the Roman Curia in 1962, as an adjunct in the Book Censorship Section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In reference to the more lenient measures taken against dissident theologians, he once remarked, "The electric chair and gas chamber are no more".[3] During the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) he worked as a consultant for the CDF and later became a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Family. Tomko became an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on 17 June 1970. He was named Undersecretary of the Congregation for Bishops in 1974. He was a visiting professor at the Gregorian University from 1970 to 1977.


On 12 July 1979, Tomko was appointed Secretary General of the World Synod of Bishops and Titular Archbishop of Doclea by Pope John Paul II.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following 15 September from John Paul.[5] On 18 October 1979 he became a member of the Pontifical Commission for the interpretation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.[6] Tomko was named Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 24 April 1985[7] and Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University.


John Paul II created him Cardinal-Deacon of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola in the consistory of 25 May 1985.[8] He was then named prefect of his congregation.[9] During his tenure, he became a close confidant of Pope John Paul, and served as a special papal envoy to several religious celebrations. He was named a member of the Presynodal Council for Special Synod of Asian Bishops in September 1995. After ten years as a cardinal deacon, he opted for order of Cardinal Priests and assumed the titular church of S. Sabina on 29 January 1996.[10]

Eucharistic congresses[edit]

Tomko was appointed President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses on 23 October 2001.[11] In this post, he presided over the Holy See's delegation to the Interreligious Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 23 to 24 September 2003. As papal legate he chaired the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2004.

Upon the death of John Paul II on 2 April 2005, Tomko and all major Vatican officials automatically lost their positions. He was confirmed as president of International Eucharistic Congresses by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 April.[12] Tomko retired as president on 1 October 2007.[13]

Later work[edit]

Pope Benedict XVI established a Commission of Cardinals to investigate leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers, and in other communications media. It first met on 24 April 2012. Cardinal Herranz served as the chair and the other members were Cardinals Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi.[14]

At the papal inauguration of Pope Francis on 19 March 2013, Tomko was one of the six cardinals who made the public act of obedience on behalf of the College of Cardinals to the new pope.[a][15][16]

In February 2015 he attended the consistory of cardinals on issues of reform of the Roman Curia.[citation needed]

Tomko became the oldest living member of the College of Cardinals upon the death of Cardinal Albert Vanhoye on 29 July 2021.[17]

Tomko died in Rome on 8 August 2022 at the age of 98. He had recently suffered a spinal injury, and was further weakened from COVID-19 complications.[18][19][20] On 16 August 2022, he was buried, per his wishes, in the Cathedral of St. Elisabeth of Hungary in Košice.[21]

Selected works[edit]

  • Light of Nations (Rome 1972)
  • On Missionary Roads, 2007, ISBN 978-1586171650


  • Grand-Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne de Chene (Luxembourg 1988)[22]
  • Grand Cross (or 1st Class) of the Order of the White Double Cross (1995)[23]
  • Grand Cruz de la Orden del Libertador San Martín, Argentina (Buenos Aires 1999).
  • The Catholic University of Ruzomberok awarded Cardinal Tomko the honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa on 26 April 2006.[24]
  • Honorary doctorate awarded by the Faculty of Medicine of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice for contribution to the development of culture, education and humanity in Slovakia, (11 December 2001)
  • The Golden Plaque of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic (2009)[25]


  1. ^ The other five cardinals were Giovanni Battista Re, Tarcisio Bertone, Joachim Meisner, Renato Raffaele Martino and Francesco Marchisano. Re and Bertone represented the cardinal bishops; Martino and Marchisano represented the cardinal deacons; and Meisner and Tomko represented the cardinal priests.


  1. ^ a b "Tomko, Jozef". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Card. Jozef Tomko", Holy See, 4 May 2004
  3. ^ "No More Heresy". Time. 15 February 1971. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXI. 1979. p. 966. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Ordinazione Episcopale di Monsignor Josef Tomko" (in Italian). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 15 September 1979. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXI. 1979. p. 1368. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  7. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXVII. 1985. p. 679. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Consistoro Unico" (in Italian). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  9. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXVII. 1985. p. 675. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  10. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXVIII. 1996. pp. 226–7. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 23.10.2001" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 23 October 2001. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Nomine e Confirme nella Curia Romana, 21.04.2005" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 21 April 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 01.10.2007" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Notificazione dello Segretaria del Stato, 24.07.2014" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  15. ^ Rolandi, Luca (19 March 2013). "Il giorno di Papa Francesco: La messa di inizio pontificato in Piazza San Pietro" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  16. ^ Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate (Vatican video of Pope Francis' papal inauguration on YouTube
  17. ^ "Wenige Tage nach Geburtstag: Ältester Kardinal der Welt gestorben". (in German). 30 July 2021. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Oldest member of College of Cardinals dies at 98 - UCA News".
  19. ^ "Zomrel kardinál Jozef Tomko, patril k najvplyvnejším ľuďom vo Vatikáne". (in Slovak). 8 August 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Cardinal Jozef Tomko dies at 98". Vatican News. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  21. ^ Holubčíková, Jana. "Miesto posledného odpočinku / Telo kardinála Tomka uložia do pôvodne stredovekej krypty, vedú z nej katakomby". (in Slovak). Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  22. ^ "J. Em. Mons. Cardinal Jozef Tomko", Conference of Slovak Bishops
  23. ^ Slovak republic website, State honours Archived 13 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine : 1st Class received in 1995 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  24. ^ "J. Em. Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Dr. hc KU", Catholic University in Ruzomberok Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "State Secretary Peter Javorčík received Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples", Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, 21 November 2012[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Position created Adjunct Secretary of the International Theological Commission
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Goffredo Mariani
Undersecretary of the Congregation for Bishops
21 December 1974 – 12 July 1979
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
12 July 1979 – 24 April 1985
Succeeded by
Preceded by — TITULAR —
Titular Archbishop of Doclea
12 July 1979 – 25 May 1985
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
24 April 1985 – 9 April 2001
Succeeded by
Titular church established Cardinal Deacon of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola
25 May 1985 – 29 January 1996
Succeeded by
Office created President of the Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious
18 March 1989 – 9 April 2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal Priest of Santa Sabina
29 January 1996 – 8 August 2022
Preceded by President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
23 October 2001 – 1 October 2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by Oldest living cardinal
29 July 2021 – 8 August 2022
Succeeded by