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Krol, John Joseph

KROL, JOHN JOSEPH

Cardinal, archbishop of Philadelphia; b. Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 26, 1910; d. Philadelphia, Pa., Mar. 3, 1996. The fifth child of John Krol Sr., a stone cutter by trade, and Anna Pietruszka, Krol received his early education at St. Hyacinth's elementary school and the Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland. Upon graduation from high school in 1927, he found employment as a meat cutter in a local market. He eventually answered God's call to the priesthood, began his studies at St. Mary's College, Orchard Lake, Mich., and completed them at St. Mary's Seminary in Cleveland. He was ordained on Feb. 20, 1937 at St. John's Cathedral in Cleveland by Bishop Joseph schrembs. His first and only parochial assignment followed at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Cleveland. The following year he was sent to Rome for studies in canon law. With the outbreak of World War II, he was recalled to the United States and assigned to the catholic university of america, where he completed a doctorate in canon law.

In 1942 Krol returned to Cleveland and the chair of canon law at St. Mary's Seminary. At the same time, he functioned as defender of the bond, vice-chancellor, and eventually chancellor of the diocese. In 1948 he was elected president of the Canon Law Society of America. Pope pius xii created him Papal Chamberlain in 1945 and Domestic Prelate in 1951. In 1953 Monsignor Krol was named auxiliary bishop of Cleveland and titular bishop of Cadi. He chose as his episcopal motto Deus Rex Meus, a heraldic pun on his own name (krol is Polish for "king").

In 1960 Pope John XXIII announced his intention of summoning an ecumenical council. Bishop Krol was named to the preparatory commission on bishops and the government of dioceses. As the council years unfolded he would go on to be appointed one of the five undersecretaries of the council. He was also a member of the central coordinating committee of the council. Before the council convened, Krol was named to succeed Cardinal O'Hara as tenth ordinary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was installed on March 22, 1961. On the same day as his appointment to Philadelphia, the archdiocese was split to create the diocese of Allentown.

Archbishop Krol arrived in Philadelphia at a time of social and demographic change. Of the 39 parishes he founded, all but five were in the suburbs; of 16 parishes closed or consolidated, all but two were within the city of Philadelphia. One of Archbishop Krol's chief priorities was Catholic education. During his tenure St. Charles Borromeo Seminary received full accreditation for its college program. A student apostolate program was introduced, and a school of religious studies for religious and laity was founded. Despite the decline in enrollment during the 1970s, Krol maintained a viable archdiocesan school system. One of his most successful efforts to raise funds for the schools was the foundation of BLOCS (Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools). This was a non-sectarian community business effort to raise money for Catholic schools as a recognition of their value to the whole community. In 1963 Archbishop Krol was named chairman of the Education Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC). In 1965 he was elected vice-chairman of the administrative board of the NCWC. When the NCWC gave way to the newly organized NCCB/USCC, he was elected vice-president of the NCCB and president of the same body in 1971. As spokesman for the Catholic bishops he testified against nuclear arms and the arms race before Congress during the deliberations on the SALT Treaty of 1979.

Archbishop Krol was a strict constructionist with regard to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. One innovation he consistently opposed was that of Saturday evening Mass. To the end of his life he battled for the sanctity of Sunday observance. In matters ecumenical, he was among the leaders of the American hierarchy. In 1964 he founded the Archbishop's Commission on Human Relations with a twofold mandate of directing the archdiocesan ecumenical movement and of promoting racial harmony in cooperation with other faith groups. His ecumenical efforts brought him recognition from the Mason's Golden Slipper Square Club in 1966 when they granted him their Brotherhood Award. In 1967 he received the first John Wesley Ecumenical Award. In 1968 he was given the Human Relations Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

On June 26, 1967 Pope Paul VI named Krol to the College of Cardinals, the same day that Archbishop Karol Wojtyła received the red biretta. Krol's titular church was Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant' Adriano. He was appointed to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for Oriental Churches. He also served on the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

In 1976 Cardinal Krol and the archdiocese hosted the Forty-first International Eucharistic Congress. During his tenure the cardinal diligently pursued the causes of Philadelphia's local heroes of the faith. He saw the canonization of St. John Neumann, CSSR, fourth bishop of Philadelphia, in June of 1977. In 1964 he opened the cause of Mother Katherine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which ultimately led to her canonization in October of 2000.

Cardinal Krol participated in the two historic conclaves of 1978 that elected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II. In October of 1979 he welcomed John Paul II to Philadelphia on the journey that would take the pontiff to New York, Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, and Washington D.C.

Much still remains to be known about the historic collaboration between Pope john paul ii and President Ronald Reagan in the downfall of Communism in Poland during the 1980s, but there have been credible reports that the line from the Vatican to the White House ran through Philadelphia and Cardinal Krol.

The Cardinal retired from his archdiocesan duties on Feb. 11, 1988. During his retirement years, he was a moving force behind the Papal Foundation that was set up in 1988 to ease the financial burdens of the Holy See in the wake of the Banco Ambrosiano collapse. Cardinal Krol died at the archepiscopal residence on the feast day of Mother Katherine drexel. He is interred in the crypt of Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Bibliography: j. f. connolly, The History of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (Philadelphia 1976). The Catholic Standard and Times vol. 100 (March 1996). The American Catholic Who's Who (Washington 1980).

[thomas j. mcmanus]

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