The Catholic University of America

The Conferral of the Degree
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa,
His Eminence Cardinal Franc Rode

"However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool of which God has made use." These words of St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission, are most fitting as we honor one of his sons today, His Eminence Cardinal Franc Rode.

Born on September 23, 1934, in Rodica, Yugoslavia, known today as Slovenia, Cardinal Franc Rode spent his early life in Yugoslavia, Austria and Argentina. He entered the Congregation of the Mission, popularly known as the Lazarists or Vincentians, in Buenos Aires in 1952, and professed his vows five years later.

Ordained a Vincentian priest in Paris, home of the Vincentians, in 1960, Father Rode returned to his native Yugoslavia where he fulfilled various pastoral responsibilities assigned to him. He then studied at the Gregorian University in Rome and the Catholic Institute of Paris, where he obtained his doctorate in theology in 1968. Father Rode served as provincial of the Vincentians in his native Yugoslavia where he also taught theology and missiology at the faculty of Theology at Ljubljana.

In 1978, Father Rode returned to Rome, serving first as consultor in the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Believers and, later, as its under-secretary in 1982. He helped organize important dialogue with European Marxists and was appointed by Pope John Paul II as secretary of the newly created Pontifical Council for Culture in 1993.

Father Rode was appointed archbishop of Ljubljana in 1997 by Pope John Paul II, thus becoming the primate of modern Slovenia. Archbishop Rode returned to Rome seven years later as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican department that oversees religious life in the Catholic Church throughout the world.

Pope Benedict XVI created Archbishop Rode a cardinal at the consistory of 2006. He also serves as a member of various congregations of the Holy See, including Divine Worship, Bishops, Catholic Education, the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."

A loyal son of the Church and its beloved St. Vincent de Paul, Cardinal Franc Rode has lived the admonition of the holy founder by "seeing himself merely as a tool of which God has made use." With great admiration and in recognition for his life of service to the Church, especially its religious women and men, The Catholic University of America proudly bestows upon him, honoris causa, the degree Doctor of Laws.

Given at Washington, D.C, September 24, in the year of Our Lord 2008.