Ruffini, Ernesto

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Archbishop, cardinal; b. San Benedetto Po, diocese of Mantua, Jan. 19, 1888; d. Palermo, June 11, 1968. Ruffini was ordained to the priesthood on July 10, 1910, and became one of the first students at the newly established Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. After his graduation and a trip to the Holy Land, he was appointed by his papal benefactor to the Lateran Seminary to teach Sacred Scripture. During his 35-year Roman residence he also taught at the Propaganda seminary, authored books and articles on Scripture, and served on a variety of curial congregations and commissions, including the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the congregations of Seminaries and Universities, of which he was fully in charge for several years.

Pope Pius XII appointed Ruffini as archbishop of Palermo in 1945 and a year later created him cardinal. Ruffini established a secular institute, a boys town with facilities to learn various industrial trades, a village bearing his name with new houses constructed for the poor, and similar works. He also wrote a book attacking Pierre teilhard de chardin (The Theory of Evolution Judged bv Reason and Faith [Eng. ed., New York 1959]). During his visit to the United States in 1956 he was enthusiastically greeted by hundreds of his former students, including members of the hierarchy.

During Vatican Council II (196265) Ruffini was constantly studying council documents and avoided as far as possible purely social gatherings. Though his views were often criticized, some historians place Ruffini among the leading theologians of the council.

[j. e. steinmueller]