VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II highlighted the “great dedication to the cause of the Gospel” shown by Chilean Cardinal Juan Francisco Fresno Larraín, who died Thursday. The retired archbishop of Santiago was 90.
The cardinal died in the Chilean capital after a long illness, “lived with great serenity and fortitude,” the Pope stated. The retired prelate had suffered from kidney problems.
In a telegram sent to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, present archbishop of Santiago, the Holy Father expressed his sympathy to the archdiocese and commended “to the mercy of the heavenly Father this zealous pastor who with pastoral prudence and charity has served his people and the Church.”
His work as bishop “manifested his great dedication to the cause of the Gospel, while at the same time giving proof of his profound love of the Church and of the qualities that adorned him,” John Paul II said.
Cardinal Errázuriz, who learned of the news in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he is participating in the International Eucharistic Congress, was profoundly moved and began immediate preparations for his return to Santiago.
“He was a kindhearted pastor who until the last moments of his life was ready to serve. The Church of Chile and the whole country feels an enormous gratitude to him,” Cardinal Errázuriz said.
Juan Francisco Fresno Larraín was born in Santiago on July 26, 1914.
As cardinal, he had a distinguished role in 1985 in the task of achieving reconciliation among Chileans, in the last years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, guaranteeing a peaceful democratic transition that culminated in 1990.
Cardinal Fresno was the great promoter of the National Agreement, an initiative to seek basic and essential accords among the diverse currents of opinion in Chile.
In 1984, Cardinal Fresno promoted peace between Chile and Argentina, and was a principal organizer of John Paul II’s visit to Chile in 1987.
The papal message said: “In these moments of grief in which the ecclesial community of Santiago and so many faithful mourn their beloved pastor, and while I recall his hospitality during my pastoral trip in 1987, I am pleased to impart to you with affection the comforting apostolic blessing as sign of hope in the victory of the resurrected Lord.”