September 21, 2004 - Celebrating its historic ties to the
Vatican, St. John's University today honored His Eminence Angelo
Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State and Vice Dean of the
College of Cardinals, with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during
a special convocation at the University's Queens campus.
Before an audience of students, faculty and administrators,
Cardinal Sodano received his degree amid the quiet dignity of the
Belson Moot Courtroom in the University's School of Law. The
convocation took place at 11 a.m., followed by a special
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to honor Cardinal
Sodano, the first and ranking assistant to the Holy Father, in this
special way," said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of
St. John's University. "As a Catholic University, our relationship
with the Vatican has always been most important to us."
Fr. Harrington also cited the Cardinal's long-standing support
for St. John's University's Graduate Center in Rome, Italy. Fr.
Harrington added that St. John's rents its Rome facility from the
Vatican. "In a sense," he said, smiling, "we are a tenant of His
Conferring the degree upon Cardinal Sodano, the University
especially noted the Cardinal's "diplomatic skills . . . keen grasp
of international affairs and staunch representation of the Church
on the world stage." The citation presented to Cardinal Sodano
expressed profound admiration for "his lifetime of devotion to Holy
In his acceptance remarks, Cardinal Sodano addressed the
students in attendance, many of them members of the President's
Society - St. John's honorary corps of student ambassadors
reporting directly to Fr. Harrington. The Cardinal urged students
to apply the lessons of the Gospels in their daily lives.
Everything needed to lead an exemplary life, he added, can be found
Originally called to serve in the Vatican in 1959 by Pope John
XXIII, Cardinal Sodano oversaw the Church's interest in Eastern
Europe during the tense years of the Cold War. As Papal Nuncio in
Chile in 1978, Cardinal Sodano employed his diplomatic prowess to
resolve a territorial dispute between Chile and Argentina.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II named Cardinal Sodano Secretary of
the Council of Relations with the States. Three years later, the
Holy Father elevated Cardinal Sodano to the College of Cardinals,
simultaneously appointing him Vatican Secretary of State. Though
Cardinal Sodano turned 75, the traditional retirement age for
Vatican dignitaries, in 2001, the Holy Father asked him to remain
as Secretary of State.
Founded in 1870, St. John's University is one of America's
leading Catholic universities. St. John's has residential campuses
in Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan, in New York City; a
location in Oakdale, NY; and a Graduate Center in Rome, Italy.