Cardinal John P. Foley, who spent more than two decades as President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, died Sunday, December 11, 2011, following a battle with leukemia. He was 76. Cardinal Foley retired in February, following the medical diagnosis, and returned home to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1962, His Eminence had the opportunity to work in the field of communications as the assistant editor of the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times. He served as its editor-in-chief from 1970 to 1984. That year, Blessed Pope John Paul II elevated him to Archbishop and appointed him President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He held that post until 2007, when Pope Benedict named him the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and elevated him to the rank of Cardinal.
From 1984 until 2009, Cardinal Foley provided American viewers with commentary during the televised Christmas midnight Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Cardinal Foley was one of the holiest priests I have ever met,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “I was privileged to have the then Msgr. Foley as one of my professors of Philosophy in the Seminary. His priestly example was a tremendous source of inspiration for me and all the seminarians. I was also honored to be the deacon at the Mass in 1984 when he was ordained a Bishop.”
Mr. Frank Morock, Diocesan Director of Communications, echoed Bishop Burbidge’s comments. “I met Cardinal Foley in 1994. As President of the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals and a Board of Management member of SIGNIS, the international Catholic media organization, I had the privilege of meeting with the Cardinal many times. His devotion to Our Lord and to the Blessed Mother was obvious to all who spoke with him and listened to his homilies,” Morock said.
In 2005, the Catholic Academy presented Cardinal Foley with its President’s Medallion. In June 2011, at the annual Catholic Media Conference, the Catholic Academy Board of Directors presented Cardinal Foley with a special Gabriel Award for Lifetime Achievement. “This was the first Lifetime Achievement honor ever given in the more than 45 years of the Gabriel Awards,” Morock said. “It’s a strong indication of the high regard Catholic communicators in our country and throughout the world held for Cardinal Foley.”
“Cardinal Foley was a dedicated, faithful and generous servant of the universal Church, and he effectively and joyfully taught, proclaimed and communicated the Good News,” Bishop Burbidge said. “I ask all in the Diocese of Raleigh to join together in praying for his eternal peace and happiness,”
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Above: Cardinal John P. Foley receives the red biretta from Pope Benedict XVI during the consistory in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 24, 2007, at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Roma no via Reuters)
Above and below: Frank Morock, Diocese of Raleigh Communications Director and President of the Catholic Academy, presents the Gabriel Award for Lifetime Achievement to Cardinal John P. Foley during the Catholic Media Convention in Pittsburgh, June 24, 2011. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)