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Tomáš Josef Špidlík, SJ (17 December 1919 – 16 April 2010) was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He was ordained a priest of the Society of Jesus on 22 August 1949 in Maastricht. On 21 October 2003, at the age of 83, he was created Cardinal Deacon of the titular church of Sant'Agata dei Goti. Although he was not a voting cardinal, he was created a cardinal to reward him for his theological writings in much the same way as Avery Dulles and Leo Scheffczyk were.
Špidlík was born in 1919 in Boskovice, then Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic. In 1938, he entered the Department of Philosophy at the University of Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic. In the following year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate and after many interruptions in his education due to World War II, he was ultimately ordained a priest in 1949. A year later, in Florence, he finished his long formation period as a Jesuit.
In 1951, Špidlík was called to Rome by Vatican Radio. The programs broadcast to the countries behind the Iron Curtain were a precious aid to a freedom in danger of being slowly but inexorably suffocated. From this work with Vatican Radio sprang a special mission that would always accompany him and that made him known in lands despite their communist domination. Among others, he met with Alexander Dubček, the former first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and Václav Havel, who became president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic after the fall of the communist regime. Špidlík's Sunday homilies in the Czech language have been translated and published in various languages including Polish, Romanian and Italian.
In June 1955, he defended his doctoral dissertation at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. That year marked the beginning of his university career as a professor of Patristic and Eastern Spiritual Theology at various universities in Rome as well as around the world.
For 38 years he was the spiritual director of the Pontifical Nepomuceno Seminary, the old Boemo Seminary. However, his duties did not stop him from being a man of study; in fact, Špidlík was known as one of the greatest experts in the spirituality of Eastern Christianity.
The Cardinal was a prolific author and was equally acknowledged in the academic and international fields. He was chosen “Man of the Year, 1990” and "the most admired person of the decade" by the American Bibliographical Institute of Raleigh in North Carolina, was received at the Kremlin, led the spiritual exercises of Pope John Paul II and his Curia, and was decorated with the medal of the Masaryk Order, one of the highest honors of the Czech State, by president Václav Havel.
During the 2005 conclave, Tomáš Špidlík, delivered the meditation within the conclave after the doors were closed to the outsiders and prior to the taking of the first ballot. He was not however a cardinal-elector at that conclave since he became a cardinal after reaching the age of 80.
He died in Rome on 16 April 2010; his funeral in Rome was to be presided over by Angelo Sodano, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, and Pope Benedict XVI himself was to celebrate the rites of final commendation.
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- Sculptured Prayer: Twelve works of Helen Zelezny interpreted by Thomaso Spidlik. Rome 1968. Language English. Finito di stampare nello Stabilimento di Arti Grafiche Fratelli Palombi in Roma
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