Cardinal, dean of the Roman Rota; b. Shenandoah, PA, May 7, 1895; d. Philadelphia, July 2, 1968. He was one of six children born to James and Margaret Connor Brennan. By nature and preference a laconic and unassuming man, he nonetheless served in offices of considerable canonical and curial prestige.
Brennan attended the public schools of Shenandoah; Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA, which he entered in 1910; the Pontifical Roman Seminary, from which he was ordained by Cardinal Pompili on April 3, 1920; and the Juridical Seminary of Saint Apollinaire, from which he received the doctoral degree in civil law and Canon Law (JUD) in 1924. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Brennan served for four years as assistant pastor and taught high-school Latin. While professor of moral theology and Canon Law at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (1928–40), he worked on the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and became officialis on Jan. 1, 1938.
On Aug. 1, 1940, at the insistence of his former teacher, Archbishop Ameleto Cicognani, then apostolic delegate to the United States, Brennan became the first American to be assigned to the Roman Rota. He fulfilled the duties of auditor of the Rota from the time of his appointment until 1959, and he subsequently served as dean of the Rota from 1959 until 1967. During the years of Vatican Council II, Brennan served on conciliar preparatory commissions.
Brennan was designated a cardinal by Paul VI on June 27, 1967. The preceding day he had been consecrated bishop in the church of S. Anselmo in Rome and given the titular diocese of Tubune in Mauritania. His titular church in Rome was that of S. Eustachius. In the same year Brennan was designated an assistant on the Cardinals' Commission for the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See. In January of 1968 he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments.
During his 28 years in Rome, Brennan served in various additional capacities: the Vatican Court of Appeal, of which he was president; the Congregation of the Council; the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith; and the Congregation of Sacred Rites.
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