Cardinal Priest of San Gregorio Magno alla Magliana Nuova
Cardinal Geraldo Majella Angelo, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia (Brazil), was born at Juiz de Fora, in the State of Minas Gerais, on 19 October 1933. The third of eight sons of Antônio Agnelo (died 11 December 1969) and Silvia Spagnolo Agnelo (died 15 May 1996), he was baptized in the parish church of São Mateus at Juiz de Fora on 11 February 1934.
He completed his elementary schooling at the Santos Anjos institute run by the Carmelite Sisters of Divine Providence from 1942 to 1944. In 1945, he began his upper secondary studies at the diocesan minor seminary Santo Anônio at Juiz de Fora, finishing in 1947. From 1948, he continued his studies at the archdiocesan minor seminary in Saõ Paulo, at Pirapora do Bom Jesus, run by the Premonstratensian Fathers. During this time, his family moved to Saõ Paulo.
In 1951, he began to study Philosophy at the central seminary Imaculada Conceição do Ipiranga in Saõ Paulo. He received his Bachelor of Philosophy from the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Mogi das Cruzes. In 1954, he enrolled in the Theology faculty Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Saõ Paulo and in 1957, he received his Bachelor of Theology.
He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 June 1957 in the Saõ Paulo Cathedral by the Auxiliary Archbishop of Saõ Paulo, Antônio Maria Alves de Siqueira. He carried out many different assignments as a priest. In 1958-1959, he was Spiritual Director and Professor in the pre-seminary Santo Curato d'Ars for adult vocations, Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Catholic Women Student Youth, and in the same period, Notary of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Saõ Paulo. From the beginning of 1958, he was an assistant priest in the parish of Santo Antônio da Barra Funda in Saõ Paulo.
In the years from 1960-1963, he was director of the philosophical seminary of the Archdioceses of Saõ Paulo and Aparecida and, then, from 1964 to 1967, Spiritual Director and Professor for the theology courses in the central seminary Imaculada Conceição do Ipiranga in Saõ Paulo. In this period he was also a Profesor in the Philosophy Faculty at the Pontifical Catholic University of Saõ Paulo.
At the beginning of 1964, Cardinal Carlos Carmelo de Vasconcellos Motta named him Canon of the Metropolitan Capital of Saõ Paulo.
In October 1967, he began his studies in Liturgy at the liturgical institute of the Pontifical Atheneum Sant'Anselmo in Rome, receiving a doctorate in Theology on 3 December 1969 specializing in Liturgy with a thesis entitled: "Servitus in the Veronese Sacramentary. Doctrine and Meaning, contibuting to an understanding of the theological significance of the liturgical service."
During his time in Rome, he participated each week in the Brasilian programme on Vatican Radio called "Liturgy and Life" and he was also an assistant priest in the parish of Pope St Clement in the Montesacro district.
On returning to Brazil in 1970, he was pastoral coordinator for the Archdiocese of Saõ Paulo until the end of 1974. During this period he was also a professor of sacramental and liturgical theology at the Pius XI Theological Institute, in the John XXIII Major Seminary, and with the Theology Faculty Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Saõ Paulo, of which he was made Rector from 1974 until 1978. From 1973, he was a member of the Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission, canon of the Metropolitan Capital and master of ceremonies of the metropolitan cathedral.
Pope Paul VI nominated him as Bishop of Toledo in the State of Paraná on 5 May 1978. He was consecrated by Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns in the Saõ Paulo Cathedral on 6 August 1978 (on the same day and at the same time as the death of Pope Paul VI).
He was co-founder, Rector and professor of the Arnaldo Busato Faculty of Human Sciences in Toledo. He was also one of the vice-presidents of the CNBB-Regional Sul II and a member of the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy.
Pope John Paul II named him Metropolitan Archibishop of Londrina on 27 October 1982. From 1983 until 1987, he was President of the Liturgical Commission of the CNBB. At the same time he was a member of the Liturgy Department of the Latin-American Episcopal Conference (CELAM). In April of 1991, he was elected President of the Liturgy Department during CELAM's plenary assembly in Buenos Aires.
Pope John Paul II named him Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 16 September 1991. He was made a member of the Pontifical Latin American Commission on 3 June 1994. On 17 March 1995, the Holy Father made him a member of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and President of the Liturgical Commission of that Committee. On 30 October 1997, he was made a member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
On 13 January 1999, Pope John Paul II named him Metropolitan Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia.
In May 1999, he was elected Vice-President of CELAM.