Giacomo Lercaro

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Cardinal Lercaro (left) with Cardinal Giuseppe Siri , October 1958

Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro (born October 28, 1891 in Quinto al Mare , Province of Genoa , Italy , † October 18, 1976 in Bologna ) was Archbishop of Bologna and Cardinal .


Giacomo Lercaro was born as the eighth of nine children in Quinto al Mare near Genoa . He came from a family of sailors (his father was a harbor pilot ) and two of his brothers, Amedeo and Attilio, also became clergy. From 1902 to 1914 Lercaro attended the seminary of the Archdiocese of Genoa . He received on 25 July 1914 by Archbishop Ildefonso Pisani the priesthood . Two months later, Lercaro began studying at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome . When Italy entered World War I , he was forced to work as a military chaplain until 1917 . A year later, in 1918, he became prefect of the seminary in Genoa, where his brother Amedeo was already Regens . He held this post until 1923. During this time (1921 to 1923) he was also a substitute professor of Catholic theology , as well as professor of patrology (1923 to 1927). In 1927 he became a religion teacher at a high school in Genoa. He also took part in student movements in the area during this period. Since then he has tried to combine Catholic theology and modern culture.

Lercaro was anti-fascist at an early stage. He supported Italians who opposed Mussolini's restrictive Jewish policy and organized hiding places for Jews and other persecuted people. During the Second World War he was forced to work under the alias Father Lorenzo Gusmini and live in an abandoned monastery to avoid being killed by the Nazi collaborators .

His decidedly anti-communist attitude is considered to be the criterion for the appointment of Lercaros as Archbishop of Ravenna on January 31, 1947 by Pope Pius XII. He received the episcopal ordination on March 19, 1947 by the Archbishop of Genoa , Giuseppe Siri ; Co- consecrators were Angelo Rossini , Archbishop of Amalfi , and Francesco Canessa , Titular Bishop of Sarepta . Lercaro was Archbishop of Bologna from April 19, 1952 to 1968. Both cities were considered to be the strongholds of the communists at this time . Although anti-communist, Lercaro tried to enter into dialogue with the leaders of the Communist Party in Bologna. Pope Pius XII elevated him to cardinal on January 12, 1953 . He became a cardinal priest with the titular church of Santa Maria in Traspontina . In his early days as a cardinal, he turned his cardinal palace into an orphanage. During this time he was considered papabile by the Osservatore Romano .

Lercaro participated in the conclave of 1958 that Pope John XXIII. elected, also at the conclave of 1963 , when Pope Paul VI. was chosen.

Gravestone of Cardinal Lercaro in the Cathedral of San Pietro (Bologna)

Lercaro was a participant in the Second Vatican Council and soon became one of the personalities who shaped the council. Together with Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian , Julius Döpfner and Léon-Joseph Suenens he was one of the four Council moderators. He also played a key role in the liturgical reform . Above all, he advocated making “the mystery of Christ in the poor and the evangelization of the poor ... the soul of the doctrinal and legislative work of this council”: “It must not be one of the themes of the council, but must become the central question. The theme of this council is the church, especially insofar as it is a church of the poor. ”Again and again he recalled the task of becoming a church of the poor . His concern was taken up by liberation theology in Latin America in the 1970s . The last line of the inscription on his tombstone honors Giacomo Lercaro as a “Promotore dell 'ascesa dei piccoli e dei poveri” (“Promoter of the ascent of the little ones and the poor”). Yves Congar dedicated his book For a Serving and Poor Church (1963) to Lercaro .

In 1967 Pope Paul VI appointed the conservative bishop of Mantua , Antonio Poma , to Lercaros coadjutor archbishop cum iure successionis . In his New Year's sermon in 1968, Lercaro spoke out in favor of an end to the American bombing raids on Vietnam . In February 1968, he resigned from his office, which Pope Paul VI. was confirmed after Lercaro's resignation (when he reached the age of 75) had been rejected by the Pope. Paul VI appointed him papal legate of the XXXIX. International Eucharistic Congress that took place in Bogotá in August 1968. In the 1970s, Lercaro was one of the first cardinals in Europe to take up the impulses of the Latin American base communities .

Giacomo Lercaro died of heart failure ten days before his 85th birthday. His body was buried in the Cathedral of Bologna .


Fonts (in German translation)

  • Paths to contemplative prayer. Herder, Freiburg 1959.
  • John XXIII Draft a new image. Herder, Freiburg 1967.


Web links

Commons : Giacomo Lercaro  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Matteo Donati: Il sogno di una Chiesa. Gli interventi al Concilio Vaticano II del cardinale Giacomo Lercaro. Cittadella Editrice, Assisi 2010, ISBN 978-88-308-1053-2 , pp. 133-144.
  2. Quoted from Marie-Dominique Chenu : “Church of the Poor” at the Second Vatican Council. In: Concilium , Vol. 13 (1977), pp. 232-235, citations p. 233.
  3. ^ Normann Tanner: Church in the world: Ecclesia ad extra. In: Giuseppe Alberigo , Günther Wassilowsky (ed.): History of the Second Vatican Council. Vol. 4: The Church as a Community. Third session and Intersessio (September 1964 to September 1965). Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, Ostfildern 2006, pp. 313–448; therein the chapter: The group “Church of the Poor” and Lercaro's report on poverty , pp. 441–448.
  4. Bernhard Bleyer: The poor as a sacrament of Christ. Paul VI's sermon in San José de Mosquera (1968). In: Voices of the Time , Vol. 226 (2008), pp. 734–746; therein the chapters The Speech Cardinal Lercaros at the Council and The Theological Justification of the Church of the Poor - the example of Gustavo Gutiérrez .
  5. ^ Hubert Frank: Colombia. In: Erwin Gatz (Ed.): Church and Catholicism since 1945. Volume 6: Latin America and the Caribbean , edited by Johannes Meier and Veit Straßner. Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-506-74466-1 , pp. 305–322, here p. 315.
predecessor Office successor
Antonio Lega Archbishop of Ravenna
Egidio Negrin
Giovanni Cardinal Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano Archbishop of Bologna
Antonio Cardinal Poma