Belgian Friend of Karol Wojtyla Is Among New Cardinals

Polish Theologian Also to Get a Red Hat

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ROME, SEPT. 29, 2003 ( Among the 31 new cardinals announced Sunday by John Paul II is Monsignor Gustaaf Joos, a longtime friend from Belgium. Also destined for a red hat is a Polish theologian who taught at the same university as Karol Wojtyla.

In the case of the Belgian monsignor, the Holy Father is recognizing the priest’s faithfulness to the Church, which the Pontiff has observed personally for almost 60 years.

Monsignor Joos, who will now receive episcopal ordination, was born in 1923, and was a classmate of Karol Wojtyla at the Belgian College in Rome between 1946-48, Canon Georges Styts of Gand told ZENIT.

At that time, young Father Joos was studying canon law, while Father Wojtyla was writing his doctoral thesis under the direction of Dominican Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.

Monsignor Joos, who had three brothers who were priests, one of whom was a missionary in Japan, maintained throughout the years his close friendship with his Polish friend. When Karol Wojtyla was named archbishop of Krakow and later elected Pope, the two friends continued to see each other at least once a year.

After being professor at a center for seminarians who were doing their military service, Father Joos became a professor of moral theology and canon law at Gand Seminary. He has also been judicial vicar of the diocese.

Despite his age, Monsignor Joos continues to work actively in the ecclesiastical court of Amberes court of appeal, and is parish priest of Landskouter, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Gand.

Canon Styts said Monsignor Joos enjoys good health and was more surprised than any one else by his appointment.

Another new cardinal-designate is Polish theologian Father Stanislas Nagy, whom John Paul II meets often, especially on holidays.

Father Nagy, 82, of Krakow, is a specialist in moral theology. He belongs to the Congregation of Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

He has been a professor at Lublin University in Poland, where the future John Paul II taught moral theology.

The cardinal-designate told Polish television that the news of his appointment was unexpected and that he telephoned the Pope to thank him. Because of his age, Father Nagy will not be able to participate in a possible conclave.

The new cardinals will receive their red hats in a consistory Oct. 21.

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