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Pope mourns Venezuela cardinal who drew ire of authoritarian leaders

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TIZIANA FABI | AFP

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 09/24/21

Cardinal Urosa, 79, passed away after almost a month in hospital with Covid.

Pope Francis offered his condolences to the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Caracas, Venezuela, and to all those close to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who died on September 23 at the age of 79. The Archbishop Emeritus of Caracas had been hospitalized since August 27 because of Covid-19. He celebrated his 79th birthday on August 28.

Pope Francis remembered Cardinal Urosa as “a devoted pastor who, for years and with fidelity, gave his life in the service of God and of the Church.”

Cardinal Urosa faced the challenge of defending the Church and his people in a difficult political situation under both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, once writing for example, “We have the political problem of a national government that pretends to seize absolute power and control all spheres of public and political life.” He was even called names publicly by Chavez.

In 2017, he was trapped in a church with hundreds of faithful while pro-Maduro militias violently demonstrated outside.

A final expression of love

Three days before his death, on September 20, the archdiocese indicated that the prelate remained under “continuous and close medical supervision.” He had at least received the first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine.

Venezuela, with its grave economic and political crisis, has been able to vaccinate just 15% of its people.

On September 12, the Archdiocese of Caracas published a message from the cardinal, a “brief declaration of love to God, to the Church and to the people of Venezuela,” which sounds today like a spiritual testament.

He wrote:

I express my great affection for the Venezuelan people and my absolute dedication to their freedom, to its institutions, to the defense of people’s rights against abuses committed by national governments. And in this attitude, I have always acted, not out of hatred or resentment, but for the defense of freedom, justice and the rights of the Venezuelan people.

Born in 1942 in Caracas, he was ordained a priest in 1967 then appointed by Pope John Paul II auxiliary bishop of the Venezuelan capital in 1982.

It was in 2006 that the German pontiff elevated him to the rank of cardinal, making him the fifth Venezuelan to receive the cardinal’s hat.

Tags:
Pope FrancisVenezuela
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