Pontiff Mourns Madagascar Cardinal

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing his condolences at the death of Cardinal Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, who died Saturday at the age of 84.

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The cardinal served as the archbishop of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, from 1994 until his retirement in 2005.

Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra was born in 1925 on the southeast African island nation, and he was ordained a priest at age 29.

The papal telegram, directed to Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, notes how the cardinal «dedicated his entire life to helping Madagascans, as a diocesan priest and later as archbishop of Antananarivo, giving the best of himself that Christ might be announced.»

The Pope also expressed his prayer that, «by the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, the Lord may welcome his faithful servant into his kingdom of peace and light.»

With the death of Cardinal Razafindratandra, the College of Cardinals now has 182 members, of whom 112 are electors.

The island nation of Madagascar has 21 dioceses and archdioceses. Some 41% of its more than 20.6 million people are Christian. More than half of the population continues to hold indigenous beliefs.

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