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Bea, Augustin Cardinal (1881–1968)

  1. Jeffrey L. Morrow

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0134

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Morrow, J. L. 2011. Bea, Augustin Cardinal (1881–1968). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Augustin Cardinal Bea was born in Riedböhringen, Germany in 1881. He is primarily recognized for his role as a pioneering leader in the Catholic ecumenical movement, but he was originally trained as an Old Testament exegete. Bea became a Jesuit in 1902. From 1924 until 1949, Bea taught courses in the Bible at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (Gregorianum) and at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (PBI), where he served as Rector from 1930 until 1949. He assisted Pope Pius XII with his encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei, and he also assisted in drafting Pius XII's encyclical on biblical studies, Divino Afflante Spiritu. Pope John XXIII made Bea a cardinal in 1959, and he became that Pope's closest advisor. When John XXIII began preparations for the Vatican II (1962–1965), he commissioned Bea to draft a document on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people for the Council to discuss. The text Bea wrote was revised and expanded, and eventually became Vatican II's famous Declaration on the Church's Relation to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate. Bea was an important figure at the Council. He contributed significantly to the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, for which he was the Co-President of the commission responsible for drafting the document. In 1960, two years before the Vatican II, John XXIII appointed Bea as the first President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. After the Council Bea's work focused on ecumenism, work which he had begun as early as 1949. Much of his publishing during this time dealt with Christian ecumenism. His other major publications treated biblical interpretation and inspiration. In 1968 Bea died at the age of 87.


  • Bea, Augustin Cardinal (1881–1968);
  • Bea, a Jesuit in 1902;
  • divino afflante spiritu;
  • nostra aetate;
  • biblical interpretation, inspiration;
  • De pentateucho;
  • dogmatic constitution on divine revelation