Pope Francis has mourned the loss of Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito.
In a telegram to the city’s current Archbishop, Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, the Pope recalled the service and faithfulness of the late cardinal who passed away Nov. 15, 2020 at age 86.
“On receiving the news of the death of Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito,” the Pope said, he remembered the “pastor who, for years and with faithfulness, had given his life to the service of God and the Church.”
“I offer suffrages for the eternal rest of his soul,” Francis said.
Born in Riobamba on Jan. 1, 1934, he entered the Quito seminary in 1951. He studied theology, notably pastoral and liturgy, in various countries, in Bogotá, Madrid and Buenos Aires. Ordained a priest on July 28, 1957, he was director of Caritas de Riobamba, collaborated with the pastoral service for the natives and founded the Fátima college for the education of young people.
In 1968, he was appointed Undersecretary of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, then two years later Secretary General. Consecrated bishop on May 21, 1972, Mgr Vela was auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil before being appointed bishop of Azogues in 1975, then military ordinary for Ecuador in 1989. He was decorated by the armed forces and by the national police of the Ecuadorian state.
He was appointed Archbishop of Quito on March 21, 2003. In his ministry, he is particularly dedicated to the education of young people and the training of priests, launching a special course for newly ordained. He also opened a clinic for medical assistance to indigent priests. He renounced his pastoral charge in 2010 and was created cardinal by Benedict XVI on November 20 of the same year. He participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013.
Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga was also president of the Misas foundation for the poor priests of Ecuador, member of the CELAM and he participated in the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life (1994).
His funeral takes place today, Nov. 17 in the capital’s cathedral. After his death, the College of Cardinals has 217 cardinals, including 119 electors in the event of a conclave and 97 non-electors.