Cardinal Hickey Remembered Fondly by Pope

John Paul II Recalls His Commitment to the Teaching of the Faith

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2004 ( John Paul II recalled the commitment «in the spread of the Gospel» of Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey, the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., who died Sunday. The Michigan-born prelate was 84.

In a telegram sent to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the late archbishop’s successor in the archdiocese of the U.S. capital, the Pope expresses his «heartfelt condolences to you and to all the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Washington.»

The Holy Father added: «Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Hickey’s unfailing commitment to the spread of the Gospel, the teaching of the faith and the formation of future priests, I join you in praying that God, our merciful Father, will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of his eternal kingdom.

«To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian Burial, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.»

James Hickey was born on Oct. 11, 1920 in Midland, Michigan, in the Diocese of Saginaw. He graduated in 1942 from Sacred Heart Seminary College of Detroit, and in 1946 he completed his theological studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

On June 15, 1946, he was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Saginaw, and immediately began his pastoral work with Spanish-speaking immigrants arriving yearly in Michigan.

In 1947, he was sent to Rome to complete a doctorate in canon law at the Lateran University and then another in theology at the Angelicum.

Returning to the United States in 1957, he served as secretary to the bishop of Saginaw, remaining in this position for nine years. He was the founding rector of St. Paul’s Seminary and also participated in the Second Vatican Council as a peritus, an expert.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Saginaw on Feb. 18, 1967, receiving episcopal ordination on April 14 of that year.

On Oct. 31, 1968, he became president of the committee for priestly formation of the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops and consultor to the Congregation for Catholic Education.

In March 1969 he was appointed rector of the Pontifical College of North America in Rome. While in Rome he was also president of the Association of Rectors of Roman Seminaries.

Returning to the United States, he was transferred to the episcopal see of Cleveland on May 31, 1974. He governed this diocese until 1980, when he was appointed archbishop of Washington on June 17. He took possession of the archbishop’s chair on Aug. 5 at a solemn ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

As archbishop of Washington, he became also chancellor of the Catholic University of America, as well as president of the administrative council of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Besides his responsibilities in the local church, he also took on other serious concerns entrusted to him by the episcopal conference.

From 1979 to 1981 he was president of the committee on doctrine of the National Conference; from 1974 to 1977, president of the committees for research and for pastoral procedure, of which he had also been a member.

From 1977 to 1979 he was NCCB president of the bishops in the 4th region, from the dioceses within Ohio and Michigan. He was also a member of the four ad hoc committees on evangelization, the parish, the North American College, and priestly formation.

Within the Roman Curia he was a member of the Central Committee for the Holy Year 1975.

During Lent of 1968 he preached the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia at the Vatican, which were attended by Pope Paul VI.

He was made a cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of June 28, 1988. He retired as archbishop of Washington on Nov. 21, 2000.

With his death, the number of cardinals is now 187. Of those, 122 are electors under age 80 who could vote in a conclave for a new pope.

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