John Joseph Wright

John Joseph Wright

infobox cardinalstyles
cardinal name=John Cardinal Wright
dipstyle=His Eminence
offstyle=Your Eminence
See=Pittsburgh (emeritus)|

John Joseph Cardinal Wright (July 18, 1909—August 10, 1979) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1969 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969.


John Joseph Wright was born in the Dorchester, Massachusetts, to John and Harriet (née Cokel) Wright. While attending Boston Latin School, he worked at the Hyde Park branch of the Boston Public Library as stack boy in the evenings and summers. Wright graduated from Boston College in 1931, and then entered St. John's Seminary in Brighton. At the end of his first year at St. John's, he was sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Francesco Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani on December 8, 1935 in the chapel of the North American College.

After his ordination he did graduate work at the Gregorian, earning his Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1936 and his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in 1939. Wright taught philosophy and theology at his "alma mater" of St. John's Seminary until 1943, when he was appointed private secretary to the Archbishop of Boston, William Cardinal O'Connell. Wright continued in this position under O'Connell's successor, Richard Cushing, and was raised to the rank of Monsignor on December 17, 1944.

On May 10, 1947, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and Titular Bishop of "Aegeae". Wright received his episcopal consecration on the following June 30 from Archbishop Cushing, with Bishops Ralph Hayes and James Connelly serving as co-consecrators, in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Wright was later named the first Bishop of Worcester on January 28, 1950. In this position, he criticized both Utopians and doom-sayers, and said that an exemplary Christian " [recognizes] the vast errors of which human nature is capable...but [knows] that grace is stronger than sin" [TIME Magazine. [,9171,818920,00.html Substitute for Pollyanna] September 28, 1953] . Wright became the eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh on January 23, 1959, and then attended the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), during which he was decisive force behind several of its documents [TIME Magazine. [,9171,840025-1,00.html Princely Promotions] April 4, 1969] . Following the Council's advancements in ecumenism, he believed that an "immediate unity in good works and charity" would arise between Catholics and Protestants [TIME Magazine. [,9171,834774-5,00.html How Vatican II Turned the Church Toward the World] December 17, 1965] .

Pope Paul VI appointed Wright as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and thus the highest-ranking American in the Roman Curia, on April 23, 1969. He was created Cardinal Priest of "Gesù Divin Maestro alla Pineta Sacchetti" by Pope Paul in the consistory of April 28 of that same year. Wright was one of the four cardinals who travelled to Auschwitz in 1972 for a memorial of Maximilian Kolbe; besides John Cardinal Krol, he was the only other American cardinal to visit Poland [TIME Magazine. [,9171,906661,00.html Pilgrim in Poland] October 30, 1972] .

Wright did not participate in the August 1978 conclave because he was recovering from surgery [TIME Magazine. [,9171,919823-5,00.html In Search of a Pope] August 21, 1978] , but he was one of the cardinal electors in the conclave of the following October, which selected Pope John Paul II.

The Cardinal's legacy remains somewhat controversial. He was an intellectual who was liberal on social issues, but conservative in theology [TIME Magazine. [,9171,947371,00.html Milestones] August 20, 1979] . He espoused civil rights and condemned the Vietnam War, but opposed ordination of women and birth control. He also believed that annual Synods of Bishops would be useless and burdenful [TIME Magazine. [,9171,839119,00.html Reformists in Command] October 31, 1969] , and that seven years was the appropriate age for children to receive the Sacrament of Penance, as it might be thus able to correct sinful behavior at an early age [TIME Magazine. [,9171,910758-2,00.html When to Confess] September 3, 1973] .

Wright died from polymyositis in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at age 70 [TIME Magazine. [,9171,947371,00.html Milestones] August 20, 1979] . He is buried in Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline.


*His father John was a paper-factory clerk.
*The Cardinal believed that Pope John Paul I would be "a witty Pontiff who delights in combining love of literature with love of the words of God" [TIME Magazine. [,9171,912134,00.html Compassionate Shepherd] September 4, 1978] .
*Wright was very knowledgable about St. Joan of Arc [TIME Magazine. [,9171,947371,00.html Milestones] August 20, 1979] .
*He ate Boston baked beans almost every Saturday [Ibid.] .




*cite book | author=Glenn, Francis A. | title=Shepherds of the Faith 1843-1993: A Brief History of the Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh | publisher=Pittsburgh: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh | year=1993 | id=ISBN none

External links

* [ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church]
* [ Catholic-Hierarchy]

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