In a rare move in modern times, a “lowly” priest was made a cardinal of the Church, without first being a bishop. In accordance with the norm that all cardinals should be bishops, Pope Francis consecrated Father Czerny a bishop on 4 October 2019, making him titular archbishop of
He was made a Cardinal the next day! Benevento
CARDINAL MICHAEL F. CZERNY, SJ (born 1946) is a Czechoslovakian-born priest whose work in
Latin America, Africa, and
has promoted social justice. He has been under-secretary of the Migrants and
Refugees Section of the Dicastery for
Promoting Integral Human Development since 1 January 2017. Rome
Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, his family immigrated to
by ship in 1948. He attended a Jesuit high school in Montreal
and joined the Jesuits in 1964. He attended Canada Gonzaga University, in our own state of . He was ordained a priest in 1973 and obtained
his doctorate in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Chicago in 1978. Washington
Cardinal Czerny co-founded the Jesuit Center for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto in 1979, and was the first director until 1989. In 1990–1991, following the murder of six Jesuits and others at the University of Central America in San Salvador, he assumed the director's role of the University's Institute for Human Rights, a position that had been held by one of the murdered priests.
From 1992 to 2002, he worked in the Social Justice Secretariat at the Jesuit General Curia in
In 2002 he founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network and
directed it until 2010. During these nine years, he initiated and coordinated
efforts by Jesuits and others in nearly 30 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to
provide pastoral care, education, health services, social and spiritual
support, and to fight stigma for victims of HIV/AIDS, and channeled resources
from foreign sources. During that time, he also taught at Hekima University College in Rome . Nairobi
Cardinal Czerny worked in
at the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace as the personal assistant to Cardinal Peter Turkson from
2010 to 2016. Rome
On 14 December 2016, Pope Francis appointed him under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, effective 1 January 2017, along with Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio. Discussing his new responsibility, he called migration "one of the most important and urgent human phenomena of our times", adding: "There’s hardly a place in the planet which is not touched by this phenomenon. Indeed, though many are not aware of it, there are more people moving in
today than in any other part of the world.” China
In 2016 he commissioned Timothy Schmalz (see Blog 7/17/20) to create the Angels Unawares sculpture that depicts a boat carrying migrants and refugees wearing clothes that identify them with a variety of cultures and time periods. It was inaugurated in St. Peter's Square in the
Pope Francis named him a voting member of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.
In October 2018, he said the rhetoric used to describe migration and refugee movements was misleading. He said: "It's not a crisis. It's a series of mismanagements and poor policies and self-interested manipulations. The numbers that we're talking about, even on the total scale, are not at all that great."
The new Cardinal says. The poor wood suggests the Jesuit vow of poverty and the desire for a humble, engaged Church. The origin of the wood reflects my family's flight to safety when I was very young as well as my current responsibilities in the Migrants and Refugees Section.