Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy, of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians), Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala, died in Krakow yesterday morning at the age of 91.
“A dear brother who served generously the Gospel and the Church, especially in the academic world, as an esteemed scholar and expert docent of theological disciplines,” is how Pope Francis remembered the Cardinal in a telegram sent to the Archbishop of Krakow, H. E. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
Moreover, addressing the relatives of Cardinal Nagy and the Congregation of the Dehonian Fathers, the Pontiff recalled with gratitude the “fruitful collaboration, cordial friendship and mutual esteem of the Cardinal with Blessed John Paul II, as well as “his intense ecumenical activity.” Pope Francis raised “fervent prayers to the Lord so that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He will receive this faithful servant and eminent man of the Church in eternal joy and peace.”
The Polish Cardinal was born at Bierun Stary, archdiocese of Katowice, Poland, on September 30, 1921, to a family of workers. In 1937, he entered the Dehonian Congregation, and received his priestly ordination at Krakow on July 8, 1945. He obtained a doctorate from the Catholic University of Lublin in 1952 and his professional qualification in 1968. He held important post in his religious Congregation and in the academic world as docent and scholar.
From 1947-1950 he was rector of the Minor Seminary of the Dehonian Fathers at Krakow-Plaszow, and from 1952-1958 he was rector of the Major Seminary of the same Congregation at Tarnow. From 1957-1962 he was director of Theological Study of the Dehonians. In 1958 he became docent at the Catholic University of Lublin and in 1972 was appointed full professor.
As Pope Francis recalled, Cardinal Nagy carried out an intense ecumenical activity, to the point of being considered one of the “pioneers” of ecumenism in Poland. In addition to being the first director of the Comparative and Ecumenical Theology Section, and of having taken part in the ecumenical movement , from 1973-1974 he was a member of the Catholic-Lutheran Mixed Commission, convoked by the Secretary for Christian Unity of the Holy See and of the Lutheran World Federation. Then he became a member of the International Theological Commission and director of the “Ecumenical Theology” Section of the Editorial Board of the Catholic Encyclopedia of the University of Lublin.
During his long academic activity he was concerned particularly with the question of the Church’s credibility and her transformation in the post Vatican Council II period, reflecting profoundly on the question of the Church’s opening to other Christian Confessions.
A friend of John Paul II from the time of his priesthood, he soon became his collaborator. Numerous are the Cardinal’s publications on the activity and teachings of Blessed Wojtyla. It was John Paul II who created him Cardinal in the Consistory of October 21, 2003, with the diaconate of Santa Maria della Scala.