Paolo Sardi

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His Eminence

Paolo Sardi
Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Appointed6 June 2009
Term ended8 November 2014
PredecessorPio Laghi
SuccessorRaymond Leo Burke
Other post(s)Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Via Tuscolana
Ordination29 June 1958
by Giuseppe Dell'Omo
Consecration6 January 1997
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal20 November 2010
by Benedict XVI
RankCardinal deacon
Personal details
Born(1934-09-01)1 September 1934
Ricaldone, Italy
Died13 July 2019(2019-07-13) (aged 84)
Rome, Italy
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
  • Titular Archbishop of Sutrium (1996–2010)
  • Official of the Secretariat of State (1996–2004)
  • Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber (2004–2010)
  • Pro-Patron of the Order of Malta (2009–2010)
MottoEsto vigilans
('Be watchful'; Revelation 3:2)
Coat of armsPaolo Sardi's coat of arms
Styles of
Paolo Sardi
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Paolo Sardi (1 September 1934 – 13 July 2019) was an Italian cardinal of the Catholic Church who spent his career in the Roman Curia. He was patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta from 2009 to 2014.

Early life and priesthood[edit]

Sardi was born in Ricaldone, Province of Alessandria; his father was a farmer and his mother a schoolteacher. He studied at the local seminary of the Diocese of Acqui and then in Turin and Rome, where he earned a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1958.[1] Sardi was ordained a priest on 29 June 1958.

He graduated in canon law from the Gregorian in 1963 and completed a degree in jurisprudence at the Università Cattolica Milano in 1968. He taught moral theology in Turin until 1976, when he began his career in the Roman Curia, working in the Secretariat of State. In 1990, he was made manager of its Office of General Affairs.[1] In 1992 he was appointed Vice Councillor for General Affairs.[1]

Curial career[edit]

On 10 December 1996 Sardi was given the title Apostolic Nuncio with special responsibilities and appointed Titular Archbishop of Sutrium by Pope John Paul II. Sardi coordinated the Vatican office that writes and edits the pope's texts and addresses.[1][2] On 6 January 1997, Pope John Paul consecrated him an archbishop in Saint Peter's Basilica.[3] Among his pastoral duties while at the Secretariat, he for many years said Mass daily at the tomb of Pope John XXIII in St. Peter's.[1] Sardi would serve as the speechwriter for John Paul II as well.[4]

On 23 October 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed him Vice Camerlengo (chamberlain) of the Holy Roman Church.[5] In this position he was one of a small number of Vatican officials to visit Pope John Paul in his last days.[6] He held that post until Santos Abril y Castelló was named to replace him on 22 January 2011.[7] The role of vice camerlengo was in addition to his duties at the Secretariat; he complained to Pope Benedict about poor management there in 2009 and joked that, "I'm trying to see in these situations (which, to tell the truth, are numerous) the benevolent intervention of Providence, that wants to prepare me to leave the Secretariat without regrets".[8]

He was appointed Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta on 6 June 2009.[9][10] On 30 November 2010, after he became a cardinal, his title changed from Pro-Patron to Patron of the Order of Malta.[11] He held that position until 8 November 2014.[12]


On 20 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI created him Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Via Tuscolana.[13][14]

On 29 December 2010 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life; the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.[15] To this Pope Benedict added membership in the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura on 31 May 2011.[16]

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.[17] One analysis of Vatican politics following that conclave described Sardi as "one of [Cardinal Tarcisio] Bertone's political adversaries within the Curia".[18] In 2009 Sardi had complained to Pope Benedict about Vatican mismanagement when Bertone as Secretary of State was the Curia's most powerful figure, writing to Benedict that "for some time in various parts of the church, including among people extremely faithful to it, critical voices have been raised about the lack of coordination and confusion which reigns at its center".[8][19]

Sardi died in Rome's Gemelli University Hospital after a brief illness on 13 July 2019 at the age of 84.[2][1] Bertone led his concelebrated funeral Mass in St. Peter's on 15 July; Pope Francis delivered the final commendation and blessing.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "E' morto il cardinale Paolo Sardi: aveva 84 anni". Vatican News (in Italian). 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b Collège cardinalice: décès du card. italien Paolo Sardi (in French). 13 July 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ "Omelia di Giovanni Paolo II" (in Italian). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 6 January 1997. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  4. ^ Day, Michael (24 July 2012). "Three Vatican 'moles' named in leaks scandal". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 23.10.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 23 October 2004. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  6. ^ Fisher, Ian (2 April 2005). "As His Church Prays, Weakened Pope Nears Death". New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 22.01.2011" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 22 January 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b Allen Jr., John L. (1 June 2012). "Pondering the 'what,' not the 'who,' of Vatileaks". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.06.2009" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Archbishop Sardi Named Pro-Patron of Order of Malta". Zenit. 7 June 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 30.11.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 08.11.2014" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 8 November 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  13. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (20 October 2010). "Wuerl and Burke among 24 new cardinals". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Assegnazione dei Titoli e delle Diaconie ai nuovi Cardinali" [Assignment of Titles and Deaconries to the new Cardinals] (in Italian). Ufficio delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche del Sommo Pontefice. 20 November 2010. Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 29.12.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 31.05.2011" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  17. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  18. ^ Stille, Alexander (7 September 2015). "Holy Orders". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  19. ^ Donadio, Rachel; Yardley, Jim (18 March 2013). "Vatican's Bureaucracy Tests Even the Infallible". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  20. ^ Bonilla, Mireila (15 July 2019). "Funeral Card. Sardi. Bertone: 'maestro de la teología moral'". Vatican News (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Pro-Patron or Patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta
6 June 2009 – 8 November 2014
Succeeded by