Hamer, Jean Jérome

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Cardinal, theologian, Dominican friar; b. June 1, 1916, Brussels, Belgium; d. Dec. 2, 1996, Rome. Upon joining the Order of Preachers in 1934, Hamer took the name of Jérôme and began his studies at the Dominican Studium Generale, La Sarte, at Louvain; he received a doctorate in theology from University of Fribourg, Switzerland. At the beginning of the Second World War he entered the military, and in 1940 spent three months in a prisoner-of-war camp. Following his ordination to the priesthood, Aug. 3, 1941, he continued his theological studies. In 1944 he jointed the faculty of theology at the University of Fribourg; he taught at the Pontifical Angelicum Athenaeum, in Rome (195253), and served as rector of the Studium Generale of Saulchoir, France (195662). His most influential works from this period were his books Karl Barth, a major study of barth's dogmatic method, and The Church Is a Communion, prompted by Pius XII's encyclical Mystici corporis. In 1962 he was appointed secretary general of studies for his order and general assistant for the French Dominican provinces, a position he held till 1966.

Hamer was an expert at the Second Vatican Council for the Secretariat for Christian Unity; in 1966 he was made secretary adjunct for the secretariat, and in 1969 appointed secretary. Shortly after the council he published a commentary on the declaration Dignitatis humanae in La liberté religieuse (Paris 1967). In 1973 he was named titular archbishop of Lorium and appointed secretary of the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, receiving his episcopal ordination from Pope Paul VI in Vatican City.

Hamer was appointed pro-prefect of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in 1984 and was elevated to prefect after being made cardinal deacon, with the deaconry of St. Saba, the following year. He attended several assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, including the first special assembly for Europe (1991), before resigning his prefecture in 1992. He died Dec. 2, 1996, in Rome, and is buried in Rome's Campo Verano Cemetery.

[j. a. dick]