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Franjo Šeper

His Eminence
Franjo Šeper
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Church Roman Catholic
Archdiocese Zagreb
Appointed 8 January 1968
Term ended 25 November 1981
Predecessor Alfredo Ottaviani
Successor Joseph Ratzinger
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of SS Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense
Ordination 26 October 1930
by Giuseppe Palica
Consecration 21 September 1954
by Josip Antun Ujcic
Created Cardinal 22 February 1965
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1905-10-02)2 October 1905
Died 30 December 1981(1981-12-30) (aged 76)
Nationality Croatian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Coat of arms
Styles of
Franjo Šeper
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Franjo Šeper (2 October 1905 Osijek – 30 December 1981 Rome) was a Croatian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1968 to 1981, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965.


  • Life and Ministry 1
  • Archbishop of Zagreb 2
  • Prefect of the CDF 3
  • Cardinal 4
  • Death and legacy 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • References 8

Life and Ministry

Born in Osijek, in the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia (present-day Croatia), he and his family moved to Zagreb in 1910; his father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress. Studying in Zagreb and Rome (including the Pontifical Gregorian University), Šeper was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Giuseppe Palica on 26 October 1930. He did pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Zagreb and, in 1934, was appointed private secretary to the Archbishop. In 1941 Father Šeper became the rector of the archdiocesan seminary, a post which he held for the next decade. On 22 July 1954 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Zagreb and Titular Archbishop of Philippopolis; he received his episcopal consecration on the following 21 September from Archbishop Josip Ujčić of Belgrade.

Archbishop of Zagreb

He succeeded Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as Archbishop of Zagreb on 5 March 1960, and was created Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of 22 February 1965. He resigned as Archbishop of Zagreb on 20 August 1969. He had advocated religious liberty and the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy during the Second Vatican Council.

During his visit to the United States in 1966, he received an honorary doctorate from Villanova University.

Prefect of the CDF

He was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 8 January 1968. Šeper was the author of the document Mysterium Ecclesiae, which was written in order to re-orient the ecclesiology of the post-Vatican II period. Šeper was also the President of the International Theological Commission from its inception in April 1969.

In 1974, the Congregation published a "declaration on procured abortion", re-asserting the Church's opposition to the controversial procedure since the publication of Humanae Vitae. It later published the document Persona Humana[1] on the topic of sexual ethics.

In 1976, he was responsible for writing the statement Inter Insigniores, which firmly rejected the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. In 1980, he also wrote the CDF's declaration on Euthanasia, explaining the Church's view on ending life.


He was a cardinal elector in the August and October conclaves of 1978.

Death and legacy

Cardinal Šeper retired as Prefect on 25 November 1981 and died a month later, on the morning of 30 December, at 76 from a myocardial infarction in Gemelli Hospital. Pope John Paul II presided over his funeral Mass, and the cardinal's body was later transferred to Zagreb, where it is buried beside the tomb of Cardinal Stepinac.

On the 25th anniversary of his death (30 December 2006), Cardinal William Levada, the holder at that time of Šeper's former curial position (Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith), celebrated a Requiem Mass for him at the Zagreb cathedral.


External links

  • 1968 News article on Šeper's appointment as Prefect of CDF
  • Michael Davies's account of his 1980 meeting with Šeper


  1. ^
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alojzije Stepinac
Archbishop of Zagreb
Succeeded by
Franjo Kuharić
Preceded by
Alfredo Ottaviani
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Succeeded by
Joseph Ratzinger
Preceded by
Titular Church Created
Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense
Succeeded by
Ricardo Vidal
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