Pio Taofinu'u

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His Eminence

Pio Cardinal Taofinu’u

S.M. †
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Samoa-Apia
Cardinal Pio.gif
See Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia
Installed September 10, 1982
Term ended November 16, 2002
Predecessor George Hamilton Pearce
Successor Alapati Lui Mataeliga
Ordination December 8, 1954
Consecration May 29, 1968
Created Cardinal March 5, 1973
Personal details
Born (1923-12-08)December 8, 1923
Falealupo, Savai'i Samoa
Died January 19, 2006(2006-01-19) (aged 82)
Buried Mulivai, Apia Samoa
Styles of
Pio Taofinu'u
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Samoa-Apia

Pio Taofinu'u, S. M. (December 8, 1923 – January 19, 2006) was a Roman Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Samoa-Apia.[1] Born in the village of Falealupo on the island of Savai'i in Samoa, he was the first Polynesian bishop and cardinal. He was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in the Consistory of 5 March 1973, of the Title of St. Onofrio (St. Humphrey).[1] His father was Taofinu'u Solomona and his mother, Mau.[2]


Taofinu'u was born on December 8, 1923 in Falealupo on Savai'i island's west coast and attended the village catechism school before entering Moamoa Theological College. He continued his studies first at the Seminary of Lano, on Wallis Island and later at the Society of Mary (Marists) Seminary in Greenmeadows (near Napier, in New Zealand).[1]

He was ordained a priest for the Society of Mary (Marists) on December 8, 1954 by Bishop Giovanni Battista Dieter, S.M. He made his profession in the Society of Mary on September 8, 1962.[1]


Cardinal Pio headshot.jpg

After ordination, Taofinu'u worked at Leauva'a and Palauli district in Samoa, before going to New York and later returning to Samoa in 1962. Father Taofinu'u accompanied Bishop George Hamilton Pearce, S.M., the then Bishop of Apia (which was later to become the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia) to the Second Vatican Council in Rome. He remained in Rome for three months, taking advantage of his time overseas to visit the Holy Land. After serving as Vicar to Bishop Pearce from 1964, Father Taofinu'u became Vicar General of the diocese in 1966.[1]


On January 11, 1968, he was named Bishop of Apia, becoming the first Polynesian bishop in history. He was consecrated as Bishop of Apia, Samoa by his former bishop George Pearce, who was the new Archbishop of Suva, Fiji. One of his first duties as the new spiritual leader of Samoa's Catholic community was as one of the organizers of Pope Paul VI's November 30, 1970, visit to the Samoan Islands – the first and, to date, the only visit by a Pope. During his time as Bishop of Apia, Catholic schools increased as he put an important focus on education throughout his diocese. He established a Theological College for Catechists and Deacons in an effort to evangelize the Faith to all the islands. His work contributed greatly to an increase in priestly vocations in Samoa. As bishop, Taofinu'u was active in leading the reforms within the Catholic Church in Samoa in which some aspects of Samoan culture were blended with the existing practices.

Archbishop and cardinal[edit]

Cardinal Pio in Vatican City

Taofinu'u was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of March 5, 1973. He participated in the 1978 papal conclaves of August, and October. He became the first Archbishop of Samoa-Apia, when the Diocese of Samoa-Apia and Tokelau (as it was then), was elevated to the rank of archdiocese.[1]

Liturgical Reform[edit]

Cardinal Taofinu'u presided over the first Synod of the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, which began on December 7, 1990 and ended on December 14, 1990.[2] After careful discussion and consideration, Taofinu'u approved six synodal acts from his Commission on Worship, Sacraments and Inculturation.The second of these six acts states "O le faaaganuuga o le Tapuaiga auaufaatasi i le Puleaga Faaakiepikopo o Samoa – Apia ia faaauauina le tilotilo toto‘a i ai ma le toe iloiloinaina ma o lona faatinoga ia lanutasia i le puleaga atoa" or "[t]he inculturation of the Liturgy in the Archdiocese of Samoa – Apia is to be continually reviewed and reevaluated, and its implementation should be uniform through the archdiocese." As a result of these acts, the liturgies in the archdiocese were vibrant, become more meaningful to the people by making use of the signs and cultural symbols of the people of Samoa. During his episcopate, a new hymnal incorporating old and new hymns for the liturgy was also prepared and published for use through the ecclesiastical province of Samoa-Apia.

Retirement and death[edit]

He retired as Cardinal on November 16, 2002 at the age of 79, and died in Apia shortly after midnight on January 19, 2006 at the age of 82. His death was announced during a session of Parliament in Samoa while the Senate in American Samoa observed a moment of silence. He is buried in the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Mulivai village, Apia.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "College of Cardinals Biographical Note". Holy See Press Office, Vatican. 21 January 2006. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church". Salvador Miranda, Florida International University Library. ©1998-2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)