Raúl Silva Henríquez

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Cardinal Silva Henríquez SDB

Raúl Silva Henríquez, SDB (27 September 1907 – 9 April 1999) was a Chilean Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as archbishop of Santiago from 1961 to 1983, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1962.


Coat of Arms of Cardinal Silva Henriquez

Born in Talca, Silva Henríquez was the sixteenth of nineteen children. His father, Ricardo Silva Silva, was a farmer and industrialist of Portuguese descent, and his mother was Mercedes Henríquez Encina. After studying at the Catholic University of Chile (from where he obtained his doctorate in law), Silva joined the Salesians of Don Bosco on 28 January 1930. He later attended the Salesian Pontifical University in Turin, where he was ordained to the priesthood on 3 July 1938. From the Salesian University he earned a doctorate in theology and in canon law.

On 24 October 1959, Silva Henríquez was appointed bishop of Valparaíso by Pope John XXIII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 29 November from Archbishop Opilio Rossi, with Archbishop Emilio Tagle Covarrubias and Bishop Vladimiro Boric Crnosija, SDB, serving as co-consecrators. He was later named Archbishop of Santiago and thus de facto Primate of the Church in Chile on 14 May 1961.

Styles of
Raúl Cardinal Silva Henríquez
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Santiago de Chile (emeritus)

Pope John created him Cardinal-Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme in the consistory of 19 March 1962. Silva attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, and was one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave, which resulted in the election of Pope Paul VI. He later participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively.

A strenuous defender of social change, public housing, and land reform, the Cardinal once said, "Social injustice and poverty foster Communism...It is necessary to be Christian with social justice, with charity, with brotherhood".[1] He was awarded the Human Rights Prize from the United Nations on 11 December 1978, and the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize on 19 October 1979. Henríquez, in accordance with canon law number 400 which requires that bishops submit their letter of resignation to the Pope upon turning 75, was relieved of his position as Archbishop of Santiago on 3 May 1983, after twenty-one years of service.

As founder of the Academy of Christian Humanism, Committee of Cooperation for Peace in Chile (COPACHI) and the Vicariate of Solidarity, he was an outspoken opponent of Augusto Pinochet, the military ruler of Chile from 1973 to 1990.

Silva died at a Salesian retirement house in La Florida, at age 91, and is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago. Upon his death, he left Franz Cardinal König as the only surviving cardinal elevated by John XXIII. The government of Chile also declared five days of national mourning after his death.[2]


  1. ^ Time magazine. "New Spirit in the Church" 23 August 1963
  2. ^ Chile mourns Cardinal Henriquez

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Rafael Lira
Bishop of Valparaíso
Succeeded by
Emilio Tagle
Preceded by
José María Caro
Archbishop of Santiago de Chile
Succeeded by
Juan Francisco Fresno