Péter Erdő (Hungarian: Erdő Péter, pronounced [ˈɛrdøː ˈpeːtɛr]; born 25 June 1952) is a Hungarian Cardinal of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Erdő currently serves as the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, and thus Primate of Hungary.
He is the Cardinal-priest assigned to the Basilica of Santa Balbina, the President of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, and is presently the Relator General for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.
Erdő is reputed as having a prominent Marian devotion to Our Lady of Consolation.
He is fluent in Italian, Hungarian and Latin.
Erdő was born in Budapest, 25 June 1952, the first of the six children of Sándor and Mária (née Kiss) Erdő. He studied at the seminaries of Esztergom and Budapest, and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome (where he attained a doctorate in both theology and canon law). On 18 June 1975, Erdő was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop László Lékai, and was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Esztergom. He worked as vicar in Dorog, and then continued his studies in Rome from 1977 to 1980. For the next eight years, he taught as a professor of theology and canon law at the Seminary of Esztergom, and held guest lectures at several foreign universities. Erdő served in the Hungarian Episcopal Conference as Secretary of the Commission of Canon Law in 1986, and later as its president in 1999. In 1988 he began teaching theology at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, serving as rector from 1998 to 2003. From 2005 he is the Great Chancellor of the university.
On 5 November 1999, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Székesfehérvár and titular bishop of Puppi. He received his episcopal consecration on 6 January 2000, from Pope John Paul II himself, with Archbishops Giovanni Battista Re and Marcello Zago, OMI, acting as co-consecrators. Erdő was named Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest on 7 December 2002, and as such, he received the title of Primate of Hungary. Cardinal Erdő became a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2007 and a full member in 2013. In 2011 he was appointed as "doctor honoris causa" by the University of Navarra (Spain).
He was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Balbina by John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003. He was the youngest cardinal member of the Sacred College until the appointment of Reinhard Marx in 2010.
Erdő was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that selected Pope Francis, and can continue to exercise his right to vote in any future conclave until his 80th birthday on 25 June 2032.
The Cardinal was elected President of the Hungarian Episcopal Conference in September 2005 for a five-year term, and President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe in October 2006 for the same period of time. On 17 January 2009 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture by Pope Benedict, and on 29 January 2011 of the Secretariat of State (Second Section).
Cardinal Erdő sponsored the Thirteenth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, in Esztergom, 3–9 August 2008. On 19 October 2011, the apostolic nunciature in Peru announced that he was going to be apostolic visitor to intervene in the dispute between the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and the Archdiocese of Lima. This was a controversial choice since the Archbishop of Lima Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne is a member of the same Opus Dei personal prelature that, through the Opus Dei's University of Navarra, granted Cardinal Erdő a doctor honoris causa degree in that same year.
On Tuesday, 18 September 2012, Cardinal Erdő was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be one of the Synod Fathers for the upcoming October 2012 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
Erdő had been mentioned as a possible candidate to be elected the next pope during the Papal conclave 2013.
On Monday 14 October 2013 the Cardinal was named by Pope Francis to serve as the Relator General of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place from 5 to 19 October 2014. The chosen theme is "The challenges of the family in the context of evangelization". He resumed his appointment as Relator General when the Synod reconvened in October 2015. In the 2015 book The Rigging Of A Synod?, Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin claimed that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri had pressured Erdő to soften the wording of his 2014 address to the Synod. In 2015, Erdő's second address to the synod was described by journalists, such as Damian Thompson of The Spectator and John L. Allen, Jr. of the Boston Globe, as more theologically conservative in its tone.
Cardinal Erdő requested that the Hungarian Chief Prosecutor's Office legally, morally and politically rehabilitate Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, his predecessor who fought Hungary's communist regime and was arrested by the country's Stalinist dictatorship, after which he sought refuge in the American embassy in Budapest. The Chief Prosecutor's Office ultimately rehabilitated Mindszenty in 2012 thanks to Erdő's intervention. In 2006, he sent a letter of gratitude to president George W. Bush on the 50th anniversary of Cardinal Mindszenty's forced arrest because of the political support that Americans had granted to Mindszenty at the time.
Divorced and remarried Catholics
During a Vatican press conference in October 2014, Cardinal Erdő expressed opposition to the idea of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
Erdő, who is the Relator General at the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops told journalists at a press conference in Rome that the Catholic Church will not change its policy on the matter after the synod.
Cardinal Erdő has written about the special socio-economic conditions of the Romani people and has openly wondered on the correct way to evangelize them.
Church in Hungary
Cardinal Erdő has focused on Hungary's need to restore its faith and hope, while celebrating midnight mass at St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, to mark the Christmas holiday.