VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- At a funeral Mass for Cardinal Opilio Rossi, John Paul II recalled a lesson of the prelate’s wartime experience in Germany: that violence and extreme nationalism lead to sorrow and bloodshed.
The U.S.-born cardinal died in a Roman clinic on Monday at 93, after a long illness.
In his homily, the Holy Father sketched the cardinal’s biography. Opilio Rossi was born in New York to an Italian family. In the 1970s he became the first president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, whose members included Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.
John Paul II recalled the lessons Father Rossi learned when he was assistant to Apostolic Nuncio Cesare Orsenigo in Berlin between 1940 and 1945.
Father Rossi dedicated himself “to many brothers who were suffering, infusing courage in them and nourishing in them faith in Christian hope,” the Pope said.
“It was an enriching experience of humanity and solidarity toward the weakest. Later, in the course of his life, he tried to transmit this experience to the new generations,” he said.
Cardinal Rossi “was convinced that young people had to learn an important lesson from the history of the 20th century: Only tears and blood flow from hatred, contempt for others, violence, and exasperated nationalism,” the Holy Father said.
The Pope presided over the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, concelebrated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, with cardinals present in Rome.
Cardinal Rossi was appointed president of the laity council and the Pontifical Commission for the Family by Paul VI, after having been apostolic nuncio in Ecuador, Chile and Austria.
John Paul II appointed Cardinal Rossi president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, a post he held from 1983 to 1990. He was also president emeritus of the Cardinals’ Commission for the Pontifical Sanctuaries of Pompeii, Loreto and Bari.
The College of Cardinals now has 192 cardinals, including 129 electors who could vote for a pope in a conclave.