By Vatican News
Pope Francis expressed his sorrow and offered his condolences following the death, on Friday morning, of Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski at the age of 80.
The Cardinal had worked closely with Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI as the former prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Pope Francis addressed his telegramme of condolences to the Cardinal’s brother, Władisław Grocholewski, expressing his closeness to the family and to all who esteemed the late Cardinal in this time of mourning.
“I remember with gratitude the meritorious work he did as a valued professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian and Lateran Universities, and also as the author of numerous academic publications,” the Pope wrote.
In particular, he recalled how the late Cardinal devoted himself generously to the service of the Holy See, first as Secretary and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, then as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
“In these areas he bore witness to priestly zeal, fidelity to the Gospel and to building up the Church,” the Pope said.
“While I lift up my prayer to the Lord Jesus that He might grant to him the eternal prize promised to His disciples, I offer to him, and to those who mourn his death, an apostolic blessing,” he concluded.
The cardinal’s funeral will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica on 18 July. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, will offer the Mass, after which Pope Francis will preside over the rite of final commendation and farewell.
Cardinal Grocholewski’s biography
Zenon Grocholewski, whose death was announced by the Polish Bishops’ Conference, was born on 11 October 1939 in Bródki, Poland. He was ordained in the Archdiocese of Poznań on 27 May 1963, and served for three years at Christ the Redeemer Parish before earning a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.
He worked at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura as notary, chancellor, secretary and prefect from 1972 to 1999. During this time, he was one of the seven members of the commission that studied the draft of the 1983 Code of Canon Law with John Paul II. He also taught canon law at the Gregorian and Lateran Pontifical Universities and at the Studio Rotale.
John Paul II appointed Grocholewski as a titular bishop in 1982. He was made an Archbishop in 1991 and a Cardinal in 2001.
He was the postulator for the cause of canonization of St. Edmund Bojanowski, canonized by St. John Paul II in Warsaw in 1999, and of Blessed Sancja Janina Szymkowiak.
In 1999, Grocholewski was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, which he led up until the retirement of Benedict XVI. He participated in the conclaves of 2005 and 2013, elected Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis respectively.
Grocholewski served as the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University until his death.