VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of an Italian cardinal who was one of the theological experts at the Second Vatican Council.
The Pope offered his condolences for the death of Cardinal Umberto Betti, who died Wednesday at age 87, in a telegram sent to Father José Rodríguez Carballo, minister-general of the Order of Friars Minor, to which the cardinal belonged.
The Holy Father noted his “gratitude to the Lord for the ministry carried out with zeal” by the prelate.
He particularly recalled that Cardinal Betti was “an illustrious theological peritus at the Second Vatican Council,” as well as an “appreciated consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Secretariat of State, and a magnificent rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.”
“I raise fervent prayers for the soul of such a distinguished servant of the Gospel,” the Pontiff wrote, “invoking from divine goodness eternal peace for his chosen soul.” He also sent his apostolic blessing to the family and religious brothers of the cardinal, and all those who mourn his loss.
Umberto Betti was born in 1922 in Italy and joined the Friars Minor at the age of 16. Benedict XVI elevated him to the status of cardinal at the consistory of 2007.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, will preside over the funeral this Friday.
With the death of Cardinal Betti, the College of Cardinals now has 186 members, of whom 115 are electors.