Cardinal Miloslav Vlk died Saturday, March 18, 2017, in the Czech Republic’s capital of Prague. The 84-year-old Cardinal was suffering from a tumor.
In a telegram sent the same day to the Cardinal Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, Pope Francis expressed his condolences, remembering “with admiration his tenacious fidelity to Christ despite privations and persecutions against the Church, as well as his fruitful and multiple apostolic activity animated by the desire to witness to all the joy of the Gospel, promoting a genuine ecclesial renewal ever faithful and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.”
Constrained to exercise his ministry clandestinely during the Czechoslovak Communist regime, he worked as a window cleaner in the center of Prague. In 1991 Saint John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Prague and created him Cardinal in 1994.
From 1993 to 2001, Cardinal Vlk was President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). A press release of the Council reads: “His Eminence led the CCEE in a particularly intense moment of changes, in which Eastern and Western Europe were together again after years of division. He sought tirelessly to promote and support communion in the Catholic Church and unity with the other Churches.”
Below is a Zenit translation of the telegram of condolences Pope Francis sent this weekend:
The Holy Father’s Telegram of Condolences for the Death of H.E. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk
Lord Cardinal Domink Duka
Archbishop of Prague
I learnt the news of the decease of Lord Cardinal Miloslav Vlk , Archbishop Emeritus of Prague, which happened at the end of a painful sickness, endured by him with faith and trust in the Lord. I elevate fervid prayers to God that He may grant eternal rest to this zealous and generous Pastor, and I unite myself spiritually to the faithful of that diocesan community where he exercised the Episcopal Ministry with solicitude. I recall with admiration his tenacious fidelity to Christ., despite the privations and persecutions against the Church, as well as his fruitful and multiple Apostolic activity animated by the desire to witness to all the joy of the Gospel, promoting a genuine faithful ecclesial renewal, ever docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. On expressing my heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of the late Cardinal, to the clergy and to all the faithful of that beloved Archdiocese, I impart my heartfelt comforting Apostolic Blessing, as sign of faith and of Christian hope in the Risen Lord.
FRANCISCUS PP.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]