DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     June 10, 1998     vol. 9, no. 112

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the longtime Vatican Secretary of State, died in Rome this morning.

          Born in Italy in 1914, Agostino Casaroli was ordained to the priesthood in 1937 and a bishop in 1967. He was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI in 1979.

          Pope John Paul II paid tribute to Cardinal Casaroli as "an authentic witness to the Gospel" and a "faithful servant of the Church" whose long service at the Vatican included many "courageous and significant steps with great diplomatic sensitivity, especially to improve the situation of the Church in Eastern Europe."

          Cardinal Casaroli enjoyed a remarkable tenure in the Vatican diplomatic corps, serving in the Secretariat of States from 1940 through 1990. Beginning with a modest post in the archives, he rose eventually to become the Secretary of State in 1979, and to hold that position throughout the following decade. He was considered the primary practitioner of the Vatican policy of "ostpolitik" during the years of the Cold War, and in a public address last year he described his successful efforts to persuade Pope Paul VI to seek accommodations with the Soviet empire-- abandoning the policies of Pope Pius XII, who had refused all forms of cooperation with the Communist regime.

          Often the focus of criticism-- especially from those who pointed to the Catholics still suffering under the repressive policies of the Soviet bloc-- Cardinal Casaroli was a key negotiator for the Vatican for more than two decades, and traveled constantly to participate in international conferences and to fulfill delicate diplomatic missions. Pope John Paul II-- despite his support for more active opposition to Communism-- retained Cardinal Casaroli as his Secretary of State until the cardinal finally retired at the age of 76.

          The cardinal died of an infection that set in as the result of cardiac and respiratory problems. His funeral will be celebrated at St. Peter's basilica on Friday, June 12.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 10, 1998       volume 9, no. 112


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