VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, superior general of the Society of Jesus, on the occasion of the death of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, who died in Rome on Friday. He was 90.
The Czech cardinal, a Jesuit, was a specialist in Eastern theology and spirituality and founded the Aletti Center, which is attached to the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
“The pious demise of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, distinguished Jesuit and zealous servant of the Gospel, has aroused deep commotion in my heart,” said the telegram, which was sent Saturday. “It is with profound gratitude that I recall his solid faith, his paternal affability and his intense cultural and ecclesial labors, especially as an authoritative expert on Eastern Christian spirituality.
“I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and of St. Ignatius of Loyola, He may give the deceased cardinal the eternal prize promised to His faithful disciples.
“And to you, to the Society of Jesus, and to everyone who knew him and appreciated his gifts of mind and heart, I send a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing.”
The funeral service for the cardinal will be held Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica. Benedict XVI will be present at the end of the Mass to make an address and administer the rites of “Ultima Commendatio” and of “Valedictio.” He will be buried in Velehrad, Check Republic.
East and West
Tomas Spidlik was born in Boskovice, Czech Republic. He was ordained a priest in August 1949, and made his final profession as a Jesuit in February 1958.
In 1938, he began his studies of philosophy, but because of the Nazi occupation, he was forced to abandon those studies and to work. Between 1942 and 1945 he continued his studies, but with interruptions due to forced labor. Later he became prefect of the secondary school of Velehrad, where he taught the Czech and Russian languages.
Since 1951, he has been a collaborator with Vatican Radio. He was a lecturer at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and taught courses at the Gregorian University. He was known for his preaching of spiritual retreats, and in 1995 he led the retreat for the Pope and the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Spidlik had served as a consultor of the Vatican congregations for Sainthood Causes and for the Eastern Churches.
Last Dec. 19, on the cardinal’s 90th birthday, Benedict XVI himself celebrated a Mass for him and recognized the contribution made by Cardinal Spidlik to theological dialogue between the East and West.
He celebrated the Mass in the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Apostolic Palace, which was designed under the supervision of Cardinal Spidlik and is the work of Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, of the Aletti Center. The chapel is an artistic-theological synthesis of Eastern and Western Christian spirituality.
On that occasion the Pope emphasized the important contribution of Cardinal Spidlik, “interweaving through the years a lively and, in many senses, original theological vision, in which the Christian East and West come together organically, mutually exchanging their respective gifts.”