Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master Emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and former President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, died this morning at the age of 76, says Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia, in a statement released Sunday.
Cardinal Foley was ordained a priest on May 19, 1962, an Archbishop on May 8, 1984 and elevated to the College of Cardinals on November 24, 2007.
He died at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, Delaware County early this morning.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal John Foley," said Chaput. "Cardinal Foley was a man of great apostolic energy. Anyone who met him was immediately aware of his intense love for the Church and his zeal for communicating the Gospel. By the sheer force of his personality, he drew people to the faith and to himself. I was pleased that he was able to come home during the final months of his life. No matter where he lived or how he served the Church over the years, he always considered Philadelphia his home."
Archbishop Chaput continued, "I ask the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Cardinal Foley, and I invite our priests to offer Masses for the repose of his soul. All of us are very grateful for the life and service of Cardinal Foley. His charisma and gentle spirit will be sorely missed throughout the Universal Church. May God grant him the gift of eternal life, and give peace and consolation to all those who loved, admired, and respected him."
John Patrick Foley was born to John and Regina Foley on November 11, 1935 at Fitzgerald-Mercy Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Holy Spirit Parish in Sharon Hill, Delaware County, on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
He attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory School from 1949 to 1953 and obtained a Bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Saint Joseph's College in 1957. He entered Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary that year and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 19, 1962.
He was assigned to further studies earning a Master's Degree in Journalism from Columbia University. He also received a Licentiate degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas and earned his Doctorate in Philosophy from the same institution after completing the required coursework in only one year. During his time in Rome, he also served as Assistant Editor and Vatican correspondent for the archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times.
Upon his return to the Archdiocese in 1966, then-Father Foley was appointed Assistant Pastor of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Philadelphia, while serving on the faculty of Cardinal Dougherty High School. From 1967 to 1984, he also served on the faculty of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary teaching philosophy and acting as a spiritual director for men aspiring to the Priesthood.
From 1966 until 1974, he was also co-producer and co-host of the Philadelphia Catholic Hour on local radio station WFIL and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Standard & Times from 1970 to 1984.
In 1976, He was named an honorary Prelate of His Holiness by Pope Paul VI, receiving the title of Monsignor. From 1979 to 1984, he served as Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission.
In 1984, he was named an Archbishop by the late Pope John Paul II and appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and named an Archbishop. He faithfully fulfilled this role for 23 years and spearheaded numerous evangelization efforts through the worldwide media.
His consecration as an Archbishop took place at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on May 8, 1984. Cardinal John Krol served as the principal consecrator with Bishops Martin Lohmuller and Thomas Welsh serving as co-consecrators.
For 25 years, beginning in 1984, then-Archbishop Foley provided commentary for American television viewers of the Christmas Midnight Mass from Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. His last appearance on NBC-TV's national broadcast of this Mass was in December 2009.
On June 17, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI named him Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which lends spiritual and financial support to the Catholic Church in the Holy Land and helps maintain Christian shrines in that region.
Pope Benedict XVI elevated then-Archbishop John P. Foley to the Cardinalate at a Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica on November 24, 2007 and named him Cardinal-Deacon of the Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino in Rome.
He was the seventh priest ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to be elevated to the College of Cardinals.