Cardinal Emeritus of Caracas Dies

Pope Recalls His Commitment to Vatican II

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2001 ( A day after 44 new cardinals were created, Rome received the news of the death of Venezuelan Cardinal José Ali Lebrún Moratinos, archbishop emeritus of Caracas. He was 81.

As soon as he heard the news this morning, John Paul II expressed his sympathy to newly created Cardinal Ignacio Antonio Velasco García, the deceased cardinal´s successor, and sent a message to the whole diocesan community, which was addressed to the apostolic nuncio in Venezuela.

Vatican Radio reported that, in the message, the Pope assured the Venezuelan faithful of his prayers for the cardinal´s eternal repose, and referred to his pastoral commitment to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and promote the renewal of the Church.

Cardinal Lebrún was born in Puerto Cabello, Archdiocese of Valencia, Venezuela, on March 9, 1919. He was ordained a priest Dec. 19, 1943, in Valencia, and eventually became spiritual director and rector of the archdiocese´s seminary.

On Aug. 2, 1956, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Maracaibo and apostolic administrator the following year. On March 19, 1962, he was transferred to the See of Valencia, Venezuela, and attended Vatican II from 1962 to 1965.

He was appointed archbishop of Caracas by John Paul II on May 24, 1980. The Holy Father created him cardinal on Feb. 2, 1983. Cardinal Lebrún resigned from the pastoral government of the archdiocese on May 27, 1995.

With Cardinal Lebrún´s death, there are now 183 cardinals, 135 of whom could vote for a pope in a conclave.

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