Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus of Durban, South Africa, was born on 8 March 1941 in Swartberg, South Africa. He was ordained for the Franciscans on 25 July 1970 following philosophical and theological studies at the Catholic University of Louvain.
After learning Xhosa, he worked in the parish of Lusikisiki and did pastoral work in Tabankulu. In 1978 he was named Apostolic Administrator of Kokstad and appointed Bishop of the same see on 29 November 1980, receiving episcopal ordination on 28 February 1981.
During the turbulent changes that marked the South African political scene, he was deeply involved in mediation and negotiation work along with other national and provincial Church leaders. He served as President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference from 1987 to 1994.
From 29 May 1992 until 9 June 2021 he was Archbishop of Durban.
On August 1994 until December 2008 he was Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Umzimkulu.
He akso served as President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) from November 1999 until November 2008.
President Delegate of the 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You are the salt of the earth, ... you are the light of the world'" (4-25 October 2009).
He participated in the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 2014) on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.
President Delegate of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World" (4-25 October 2015).
He was a Member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Francesco d'Assisi in Acilia (St. Francis of Assisi in Acilia).