Zenon Grocholewski

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His Eminence
Zenon Grocholewski
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study)
Cardinal Mgr Zenon Grocholewski.jpg
Appointed 15 November 1999
Term ended 31 March 2015
Predecessor Pio Laghi
Successor Giuseppe Versaldi
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Nicola in Carcere
Ordination 27 May 1963
by Antoni Baraniak
Consecration 6 January 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal 21 February 2001
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Zenon Grocholewski
Born (1939-10-11) 11 October 1939 (age 78)
Bródki, Poland
Nationality Polish
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto Illum oportet crescere (He must increase)
John 3:30
Coat of arms Zenon Grocholewski's coat of arms
Styles of
Zenon Grocholewski
Coat of arms of Zenon Grocholewski.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Acropolis (titular)

Zenon Grocholewski (born 11 October 1939) is a Polish-born Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He served from 1999 until 2015 as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University. On 31 March 2015, Pope Francis appointed Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi to succeed him as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation.


He was born in Bródki[1] to Stanisław and Józefa (née Stawińska) Grocholewski. After studying at the archdiocesan seminary of Poznań, Grocholewski was ordained to the priesthood on 27 May 1963[2] by Archbishop Antoni Baraniak, who had previously ordained him a subdeacon and deacon.[3]

After his 21 December 1982 appointment as titular bishop of Acropolis,[3] he received his episcopal consecration on the following 6 January from Pope John Paul II, with Archbishops Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Duraisamy Lourdusamy serving as co-consecrators. Grocholewski was promoted to the rank of Archbishop on 16 December 1991 by John Paul II. On 15 November 1999, John Paul II appointed Archbishop Grocholewski to serve as the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education[4] and the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University.[2]

Grocholewski was created Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere by John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001.[3] Grocholewski automatically lost his position on 2 April 2005 due to the death of Pope John Paul. He was confirmed in office by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 April. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.[5] On 21 February 2011, he opted for the order of Cardinal Priest, with his former diaconal church elevated to the level of cardinalitial title.[6] He was one of the Cardinal Electors in the Papal Conclave of 2013 that selected Pope Francis. Pope Francis confirmed him in his position as Cardinal Prefect of the Education Congregation on 30 November 2013.[7]

Along with his native Polish, he speaks Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and English.

He is a Curial member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishops (congregations), the Legislative Texts (council) and the Special Council for Oceania of the Secretariat General (Synod of Bishops).[8] Cardinal Grocholewski was also the official extraordinary envoy of the Pope to the 400th year foundation of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila, the oldest university in Asia.

On 31 March 2015, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi to succeed Grocholewski as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education,[9]

Academic career[edit]

Grocholewski taught at the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1975–1999) and at the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome (1980–1984). He also gave lectures on Administrative Justice at the Studio Rotale of the Roman Rota (1986–1998).[10]

He has given talks at conferences and conventions in various countries. He is connected with a number of Canon Law associations, and with the editorial boards of some academic reviews and journals.[10]

Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education[edit]

In March 2011 at a press conference to present the newly published Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy, Cardinal Grocholewski explained how the normative documents concerning ecclesiastical studies comprehended John Paul II's 1979 Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana" and its norms of application, issued in the same year by the Congregation for Catholic Education. "Nonetheless", he said, "'Ecclesia semper est reformanda' in order to respond to the new demands of ecclesial life in changing historical-cultural circumstances and this also (perhaps especially) involves the academic world". The reasons for the reform, the cardinal explained, are "on the one hand, the shortcomings in philosophical formation at many ecclesiastical institutions, where precise points of reference are lacking especially as regards the subjects to be taught and the quality of teachers.... On the other hand there is the conviction – expressed in John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical Fides et ratio of the importance of the metaphysical component of philosophy, ... and the awareness that philosophy is indispensable for theological formation". For this reason today's decree of the congregation aims to re-evaluate philosophy, above all in the light of that Encyclical, ... restoring the 'original vocation' of philosophy; i.e., the search for truth and its sapiental and metaphysical dimension".[11]

Honours, awards and decorations[edit]

Cardinal Grocholewski has received more than 20 honorary Doctorates, the Grand Medal of San Gorazdo of the Ministry of Education of Slovakia (2000), the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Chile) (2003), the Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Sash of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005), the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2009), and Commander of l’Ordre des Palmes académiques of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of France (2009).[10]

  • CHL Order of Merit of Chile - Grand Cross BAR.png Order of Merit (Chile), Grand Cross (2003)
  • GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 6 GrVK Stern Band.svg Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Sash (2005)
  • Ribbon Order of Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross with Star (2009)
  • Palmes academiques Commandeur ribbon.svg Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France), Commandeur (2009)


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gilberto Agustoni
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
5 October 1998 – 15 November 1999
Succeeded by
Mario Francesco Pompedda
Preceded by
Pío Laghi
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Versaldi