Crescenzio Sepe

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Crescenzio Sepe
Archbishop emeritus of Naples
Crescenzio Sepe.jpg
Appointed20 May 2006
Installed1 July 2006
PredecessorMichele Giordano
SuccessorDomenico Battaglia
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Dio Padre misericordioso
Ordination12 March 1967
by Antonio Cece
Consecration26 April 1992
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameCrescenzio Sepe
Born (1943-06-02) 2 June 1943 (age 77)
Carinaro, Caserta, Kingdom of Italy
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
Mottoin nomine domini
Coat of armsCrescenzio Sepe's coat of arms
Styles of
Crescenzio Sepe
Coat of arms of Crescenzio Sepe.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Crescenzio Sepe (born 2 June 1943) is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church who has been Archbishop of Naples since 2006. He served in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006. He was made a cardinal in 2001. Before that he spent 25 years in increasingly important positions in the Roman Curia.


Early life and ordination[edit]

Born at Carinaro, in the province of Caserta. He attended the Seminary of Aversa, studied philosophy at the Regional Seminary in Salerno and theology in Rome. He was ordained for the Diocese of Aversa on 12 March 1967. He earned degrees in theology and canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University and in philosophy from the University of Rome La Sapienza. He taught theology at the Lateran and Urbanian Pontifical Universities.[1] To prepare for a career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1969.[2]

Career in the Curia[edit]

He joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See and was posted to Brazil from 1972 to 1975.[3] He then returned to Rome and worked at the Secretariat of State, first in the Section for International Organizations and then in office for information and documentation. He was named the Secretariat's Assessor for General Affairs in 1987.[1]

Sepe was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy and Titular Archbishop of Gradum on 2 April 1992.[4] He received his episcopal consecration from Pope John Paul II on 26 April.[1] On 29 September 1992, Pope John Paul named him a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.[5] In an essay published the next year, he described celibacy as integral to the priesthood: "Christ willed ... to combine the virginal state with his mission as eternal priest.... We can therefore affirm that chastity and virginity are not simply additional or secondary in Christ's priestly existence, but belong to its very essence."[6]

As secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Sepe was responsible for organizing the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Pope John Paul's ordination to the priesthood, which proved so successful that the Pope gave him even greater responsibility.[7] On 3 November 1997, Pope John Paul named him General Secretary of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which has been described as "almost certainly the most complex logistical enterprise in recent Roman memory"[7] and "a carnival such as Rome has not seen since the days of Nero".[8] He was President of Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem from 8 November 1997 to July 2001.[1] On 18 February 1999, he was made a member of the Congregation for the Clergy.[9]

On 9 April 2001 Pope John Paul named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[10] As Prefect he was ex officio the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urban University.[citation needed] In 1995, as head of the Congregation, he helped implement a priest-sharing program among dioceses worldwide to help redress the geographical imbalance in vocations. He also said that the Vatican was facilitating the return of hundreds of priests who had left the active ministry and married in civil ceremonies, but who were now divorced or widowed and were "sincerely sorry" for having strayed from their vocation. In 1997 he said a relaxing of the celibacy rule for Latin Rite priests would not ease the vocations crisis and would have no theological or pastoral foundation.[citation needed]

Pope John Paul made him Cardinal-Deacon of Dio Padre misericordioso in the consistory of 21 February 2001.[11] At the age of 57, he was the youngest official of the Roman Curia named a cardinal in decades.[12][better source needed] He participated as a cardinal elector in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, where he was also one of the cardinals named to the group that handles the ordinary affairs of the Apostolic See until a new pope is chosen,[13] and in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.[14]

A statue of Sepe in the Church of S. Chiara, Naples

Pope John Paul named him a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on 6 August 2002,[15] the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 6 September 2002,[16] the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 8 November 2002,[17] the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on 28 May 2004,[18] and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts on 20 November 2004.[19]

Archbishop of Naples[edit]

On 20 May 2006, he was appointed Archbishop of Naples.[1] With that appointment, he became a Cardinal-Priest with his deaconry elevated pro hac vice to title.[20] He was the first head of a Roman dicastery in decades to be given a diocesan appointment.[citation needed][a] He disputed the idea that his reassignment to Naples from the Roman Curia represented a demotion. Sepe said that when Benedict asked for his reaction in advance, he agreed because it was how he wanted to end his career.[21] Others thought Pope Benedict preferred to have a prelate from a traditional missionary country, in this instance Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, lead the Congregation responsible for missionary work.[7][b]

In 2007 he called for an end to gang violence.[23]

In June 2010, Sepe was under investigation by Perugia's public prosecutor's office for financial corruption in connection with the renovation and sale of some of the Congregation's properties.[24] Media reports alleged that during his time as prefect, he sold property owned by the Congregation at discounted prices to politicians positioned to help the Congregation.[8] Sepe said that he has "nothing to hide" and he was expected to waive the diplomatic immunity afforded by his Vatican passport and meet investigators.[21][25]

In March 2018 Sepe forwarded to the Vatican a 1,200-page dossier compiled by Francesco Mangiacapra, a male escort, that purported to identify 40 actively gay Catholic priests. He said: "those who have erred must pay the price, and be helped to repent for the harm done".[26]

He has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.[27]

He formally retired as Archbishop of Naples in 12 December 2020, with the appointment of his successor, Domenico Battaglia, currently Bishop of Diocese of Cerreto Sannita–Telese–Sant’Agata de’ Goti.


  1. ^ In a similar way, Pope Benedict moved Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith from his position as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to head the Archdiocese of Colombo in 2009.
  2. ^ Pope Francis made a similar change in 2019, replacing the Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni with the Philippine Cardinal Luis Tagle.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Rinunce e Nomine, 20.05.2006" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 20 May 2006. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica, Ex-alunni 1950 – 1999" (in Italian). Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Biografia del Cardinale Crescenzio Sepe". Chiesa di Napoli (in Italian). Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXIV. 1992. pp. 412, 470.
  5. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXIV. 1992. p. 1196.
  6. ^ Sepe, Crescenzio (1993). "The Relevance of Priestly Celibacy Today". In Sanchez, Jose (ed.). For Love Alone: Reflections on Priestly Celibacy. Slough, UK: St. Paul's. pp. 66–82. Quoted in Selin, Gary (2016). Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations. CUA Press. p. 111. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Allen Jr., John L. (21 June 2010). "A hint of accountability in new Vatican financial scandal". National Catholic Reporter.
  8. ^ a b "Made in his own image: The Catholic Church faces another scandal". The Independent. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  9. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXXI. 1991. p. 479.
  10. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 09.04.2001" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 9 April 2001. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  11. ^ Pope John Paul II (21 February 2001). "Concistoro Ordinario Pubblico per la creazione dei nuovi Cardinali" [Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals]. The Holy See (Homily) (in Italian). Libreria Editrica Vaticana. Assegnazione dei Titoli o delle Diaconie ai nuovi Cardinali. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  12. ^ ""Red Pope" Probed: Sepe Under Scrutiny". Whispers in the Loggia. 20 June 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Cardinals Hear Meditation on Church and World". Zenit. 14 April 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  14. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.08.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 August 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.09.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 September 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 08.11.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 8 November 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 28.05.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 20.11.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 20 November 2004. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Rinunce e nomine" [Resignations and Appointments]. Sala Stampa della Santa Sede (in Italian). 20 May 2006. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Cardinal in Vatican corruption inquiry denies guilt". The Guardian. Associated Press. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Why Pope Francis' Appointment of Cardinal Tagle Is Significant". National Catholic Register. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  23. ^ Covella, Giuliana (2010). Otto centimetri di morte. La fine del sogno di Luigi Sica (in Italian). Guida Editori. p. 89. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Corruzione, indagati Sepe e Lunardi". La Stampa (in Italian). 19 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2010.
  25. ^ Agnew, Paddy (19 June 2010). "Cardinal may be witness in 'favours' case". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  26. ^ Kuruvilla, Carol (5 March 2018). "Italian Cardinal Sends List of Purportedly Gay Catholic Clergy To Vatican". HuffPost. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Sepe Card. Crescenzio". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2020.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State
10 October 1987 – 2 April 1992
Succeeded by
Leonardo Sandri
Preceded by
Gilberto Agustoni
Secretary of the Commission of Cardinals for the Pontifical Shrines
1992 – 1996
Office abolished
Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy
2 April 1992 – 3 November 1997
Succeeded by
Csaba Ternyák
Preceded by
José López Ortiz
Titular Archbishop of Grado
2 April 1992 – 21 February 2001
Succeeded by
Diego Causero
Preceded by
Sergio Sebastiani
Committee for the Great Jubilee
3 November 1997 – 2001
Office abolished
President of the Peregrinatio ad Pedri Sedem
8 November 1997 – 25 July 2001
Succeeded by
Francesco Gioia
New title Cardinal-Deacon of Dio Padre misericordioso
21 February 2001 – 20 May 2006
Diaconate promoted to titular church
Preceded by
Jozef Tomko
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
9 April 2001 – 20 May 2006
Succeeded by
Ivan Dias
President of the Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious
9 April 2001 – 20 May 2006
Preceded by
Michele Giordano
Archbishop of Naples
20 May 2006 –12 December 2020
Succeeded by
Domenico Battaglia
Diaconate elevated to titular church Cardinal-Priest 'pro hac vice' of Dio Padre misericordioso
20 May 2006 –