By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis has expressed his “deep condolences” and “union in prayer” at the death of Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who passed away on 4 September, in Cambo-les-Bains, France, at the age of 96.
Writing in a telegram to Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron, the Pope, who is on an apostolic visit to Mozambique, noted that Cardinal Etchegaray “profoundly marked the way of the Church in France and of the universal Church.” “From Bayonne, his native diocese, to Marseille, where he was archbishop,” the Pope said, “he was a zealous pastor and loved by the people he was called to serve.”
As the president of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace and “Cor Unum”, and then as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, the Pope said that the French cardinal was an “advisor who was listened to and appreciated, especially in difficult situations for the life of the Church in different regions of the world.”
The Holy Father recalled “an emotional memory of this man of deep faith” who had “his eyes turned to the ends of the earth, always alert when it came to proclaiming the Gospel to today’s people.”
As a token of comfort, the Pope imparted his apostolic blessing on Bishop Aillet, other bishops present, the relatives of the late Cardinal, his former colleagues in the diocese of Marseille and all those who will take part in the funeral.