Jozef Tomko

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His Eminence
Jozef Tomko
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
Peter Rusnák.jpg
Jozef Tomko, right, in East Cath. Vest, in red Card. Sandri and bp. Rusnak
Appointed 23 October 2001
Term ended 1 October 2007
Predecessor Edouard Gagnon
Successor Piero Marini
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santa Sabina
Ordination 12 March 1949
by Luigi Traglia
Consecration 15 September 1979
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 25 May 1985
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1924-03-11) 11 March 1924 (age 92)
Udavské, Czechoslovakia (Present day Slovakia)
Nationality Slovak
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto ut ecclesia aedificetur
Coat of arms

Jozef Tomko (born 11 March 1924) is a Slovak Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1985.


Early life and ordination[edit]

Styles of
Jozef Tomko
Coat of arms of Jozef Tomko.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Jozef Tomko was born 11 March 1924 in Udavské, near Humenné, in Czechoslovakia (now part of the Republic of Slovakia). In 1943 he entered the Theological Faculty of Bratislava, and was sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical Lateran Athenaeum and Pontifical Gregorian University, from 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 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, Monsignor Tomko was actively involved in establishment of the Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome. He visited several times the Slovak communities in the US, Canada and various European countries.[2] Tomko has for decades regularly addressed Slovak Catholics through Vatican Radio and in recent years also through Catholic TV Lux.[3]

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 Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In reference to the more lenient measures taken against dissident theologians, he once remarked, "The electric chair and gas chamber are no more".[4] During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) he worked as a consultant for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and later became a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Family. Tomko became an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on 17 June 1970. In addition to his academic duties, he was named Undersecretary of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops in 1974. He was a visiting professor at the Gregorian University 1970-1977.


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.[1] He received his episcopal consecration on the following 15 September from John Paul II himself, in the Sistine Chapel with Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Bishop Andrew Gregory Grutka serving as co-consecrators. On 18 October 1979 he became a member of the Pontifical Commission for the interpretation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council to both liberal and conservative constituencies. Tomko was later named Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 24 April 1985 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 and was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[5] During his tenure, the Cardinal became a close confidant of Pope John Paul, and served as a special papal envoy to several religious celebrations and events in an array of different countries. He was named a member of the Presynodal Council for Special Synod of Asian Bishops in September 1995. After ten years' standing as a Cardinal Deacon, he opted for order of Cardinal-Priests (assuming the titular church of S. Sabina) on 29 January 1996.

Eucharistic congresses[edit]

Tomko was appointed President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses on 23 October 2001,[5] ending his sixteen-year-long tenure as Prefect of Evangelization of Peoples, becoming prefect emeritus. In this post, he presided over the Holy See's delegation to the Interreligious Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 23 to 24 September 2003. He lost the right to participate in any future papal conclaves upon reaching the age of eighty on 11 March 2004. In the capacity of 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, in accord with custom, automatically lost their positions during the sede vacante. He was later confirmed as President of International Eucharistic Congresses by Pope Benedict XVI on the following 21 April. Cardinal Tomko later retired from his post as president on 1 October 2007.

Later work[edit]

Pope Benedict XVI established a Commission of Cardinals to investigate recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers, and in other communications media. It first met on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. Cardinal Herranz serves as the Chair; the other members are Cardinals Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi.[6]

On Saturday, 11 August 2012, the Holy See Press Office Bulletin stated that Pope Benedict XVI had nominated Cardinal Tomko as the Special Envoy to the Solemn Jubilee Celebration that will occur in Lviv, Ukraine on Saturday, 8 September 2012, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the metropolitan Archdiocese of Lviv for the Latins.[7]

On Saturday, 1 September 2012, according to an online Holy See Press Office Vatican Information Service (VIS) bulletin news release, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Tomko as his Special Envoy for the 600th anniversary of the creation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lviv for the Latins in Lviv on 8 September 2012.[8]

At the papal inauguration of Pope Francis on 19 March 2013, Cardinal 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 at his papal inauguration.[a][9][10]

In February 2015 he attended the Consistory of Cardinals on issues of reform of the Roman Curia.[3]



  • Grand-Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne de Chene (Luxembourg 1988)[11]
  •  Slovakia : Grand Cross (or 1st Class) of the Order of the White Double Cross (1995)[12]
  • 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.[5]
  • 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, (December 11, 2001)
  • The Golden Plaque of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic (2009)[13]


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


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Władysław Rubin
Secretary General of the World Synod of Bishops
Succeeded by
Jan Pieter Schotte CICM
Preceded by
Dermot Ryan
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Succeeded by
Crescenzio Sepe
Preceded by
Édouard Gagnon PSS
President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
Succeeded by
Piero Marini