Liénart, Achille

views updated


Cardinal, bishop of Lille, France; b. Lille (Nord), France, Feb. 7, 1884; d. Lille, Feb. 15, 1973. He studied at the College of St. Joseph in Lille and the Seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris, where he was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1907. Remaining in Paris for further studies, he received licentiates in theology from the Institut Catholique and in letters from the Sorbonne. He completed his studies in Rome, receiving a doctorate in theology and a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Upon his return to France, he taught Sacred Scripture at the grand seminary in Cambrai (191014) and at the grand seminary of the new diocese of Lille (191926). During World War I he served as a volunteer chaplain and received the Croix de guerre with six citations. From 1926 to 1928, he was pastor of St. Christopher's parish in the industrial city of Tourcoing. On Dec. 8, 1928, he was consecrated bishop of Lille, where he served until his resignation due to age on March 14, 1968.

As bishop, his two deepest concerns were the care of souls and social justice. He built a new diocesan seminary, completed the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Treille, and called a diocesan synod to draw up the first statutes of the diocese. During a bitter strike in 1929 he sided with the workers and won Vatican support for the right and duty of Catholic workers to form labor unions. The following year, Pope Pius XI appointed him cardinal. A vigorous advocate of Catholic Action as the remedy for social ills, he condemned both atheistic materialism and economic liberalism. He served as president of the Assembly of French Cardinals and Archbishops from 1940 to 1966 and, concurrently from 1954, as director of the Mission of France. During the Nazi occupation, he publicly opposed forced labor and rendered notable assistance to the victims of the war. In 1947 he journeyed to Cameroon, where the first sections of the association Ad Lucem, which he established to send lay Catholics to help in mission lands, were located. He took a pivotal role in the Second Vatican Council, where he insisted at the opening session that the council must be master of its own house and not merely the rubber stamp for the work of the preparatory commissions. He was mainly responsible for the revision of the "Schema on the Sources of Divine Revelation" and was a staunch advocate of a strong statement on behalf of the Jews. His many pastoral letters and statements constitute a corpus of contemporary Catholic theology on the whole range of problems facing modern man.

Bibliography: L'Ame du régiment, l'abbé Thibaut (Cambrai 1922). Dans les pas de Jésus (Paris 1953). La Semaine Religieuse de Lille (192868). w. abbott, SJ, Twelve Council Fathers (New York 1963). p. lesourd and j. m. ramiz, Achille Cardinal Liénart (Notre Dame, Ind. 1965).

[f. murphy]

About this article

Liénart, Achille

Updated About content Print Article Share Article