Cardinal Karl Josef Becker Passes Away at 86

Pontiff to Administer Final Commendation at Funeral This Afternoon

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Jesuit Cardinal Karl Josef Becker’s funeral will be held this afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica.

According to a communique from the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals will preside. Pope Francis will administer the rites of “Ultima Commendatio” (Final Commendation) and “Valedictio” (Valediction, or final farewell).

The German prelate passed at age 86 after months of being ill.

Born on April 18, 1928 in Cologne, Germany, Karl Josef Becker would be ordained a priest on July 31, 1958.

Pope Benedict XVI made the German prelate and eminent theologian a cardinal during the Feb. 18, 2012 consistory.

In a telegram dated Feb. 10 sent to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, the Pope expressed his condolences.  

“The news of the passing of the venerable Cardinal arouses in my heart an affectionate lament and the desire to express my sentiments of profound sympathy to you and to the whole Society of Jesus.”

The Holy Father said he recalled “with profound gratitude the intense and exemplary service” the late Cardinal carried out for many years in teaching, in the formation of the new generations, especially of priests, in theological research, as well as in service to the Holy See.

The telegram concluded with the Jesuit Pope “elevating his fervent prayers” to the Lord that, «through the intercession of the Holy Virgin and of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, He may give to the deceased Cardinal the eternal reward promised to His faithful disciples» and imparting a «heartfelt, comforting» Apostolic Blessing.

From 1969 to 2003, the archbishop had been an active professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. 

During the years of his retirement from full-time teaching, Cardinal Becker dedicated himself to studying world religions and their relations with the Catholic Church, and had developed many friendships with people of different faith traditions. The late cardinal had jointly edited the 2010 volume of the Catholic Engagement with World Religions: a comprehensive study with Professors Ilaria Morali, Gavin D’Costa and Maurice Borrmans.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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