VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II accepted the resignation of Cardinal William W. Baum, major penitentiary of the Church, for reasons of health and age. The American cardinal turned 75 Wednesday.
The Holy Father appointed Italian Bishop Luigi De Magistris to succeed Cardinal Baum, and raised him to the dignity of archbishop. To date, Bishop De Magistris had been regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
The penitentiary is responsible for all matters concerning the “internal forum,” namely, questions of conscience, particularly absolution from censure and dispensations reserved to the Pope. It is also responsible for all matters connected to the concession and use of indulgences.
William Baum was born in Dallas, Texas. Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 1976. In 1980, John Paul II appointed him prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education. He was appointed major penitentiary by the Pope in 1990.
The Apostolic Penitentiary dates back to the 12th century. Its present constitution was confirmed by John Paul II in the apostolic constitution “Pastor Bonus” of June 1988.