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Styles of
Agostino Casaroli
CardinalCoA PioM.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Porto-Santa-Rufina (suburbicarian), Ostia (suburbicarian)

Agostino Casaroli (November 24, 1914-June 9, 1998) was an Italian Catholic priest and diplomat for the Holy See, who became Cardinal Secretary of State. He was the most important figure behind the Vatican's efforts to deal with the persecution of the Church in the nations of the Soviet bloc after the Second Vatican Council.

Cardinal Casaroli was portrayed by veteran character actor Ben Gazzara in the 2005 miniseries, Pope John Paul II.


Early life and ordination

Casaroli was born in Castel San Giovanni (province of Piacenza, Italy) to a family of humble roots. His father was a tailor in Piacenza.He was ordained priest in 1937.


In 1961 he began to work at the Secretariat of State of the Vatican City under the orders of Pope John XXIII. During the period following Vatican II, Casaroli gained a reputation as a highly skilled diplomat who was able to negotiate with regimes hostile to the Church. He headed the CSCE conference in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki from July 30 to August 1, 1975.

Secretary of State

Although not made a cardinal with his close associate Benelli in 1977, Casaroli was made a cardinal in John Paul II's first consistory in 1979, and at the same time he became Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, he was overshadowed by Joseph Ratzinger within the context of intra-Church doctrinal struggles, but did valuable work in co-operating with Ronald Reagan against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and against the USSR.


Although he was seen as less hardline than any other close associate of John Paul, Casaroli's skilful diplomacy was seen by Wojtyła as an irreplaceable asset in the struggle against the Soviet Union. In 1985 he became Cardinal Bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Porto-Santa-Rufina, and in 1990 he retired as Secretary of State, being succeeded by Angelo Cardinal Sodano. He was Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals from 1993 until his 1998 death of cardiorespiratory disease.


Relations with Communism

His signing of treaties with Hungary in 1964 and Yugoslavia in 1966 was the first time the Vatican had opened itself in this way to Communist regimes who had killed many prominent churchmen since coming to power. Although his 2000 memoirs revealed a man much more hostile to Communism than most people (both inside and outside Catholicism) believed, his remarkable diplomatic skill made this hostility look non-existent.

Teilhard de Chardin

In 1981, on the 100th anniversary of Teilhard de Chardin's birth, speculation erupted about his possible rehabilitation. It was fueled by a letter published in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, by Cardinal Casaroli, who praised the "astonishing resonance of his research, as well as the brilliance of his personality and richness of his thinking." Casaroli asserted that Teilhard had anticipated John Paul II's call to "be not afraid," embracing "culture, civilization and progress." [1]

External links


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jean-Marie Villot
Cardinal Secretary of State
1979 - 1990
Succeeded by
Angelo Sodano
Preceded by
Giuseppe Caprio
President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
28 April 1979–1 December 1990
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Caprio

cs:Agostino Casaroli la:Augustinus Casaroli no:Agostino Casaroli ru:Казароли, Агостино fi:Agostino Casaroli