By Vatican News staff writer
In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus of Quito, Ecuador, Pope Francis expressed his sadness for the death of Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga.
The Archbishop Emeritus, who served as Archbishop of Quito from 2003 to 2010, died on Sunday after spending several weeks in palliative care.
In his message, the Pope also said he is close to the deceased Cardinal’s family and to all members of the ecclesial community in Quito.
“Remembering this selfless pastor who, for years and in fidelity dedicated his life to serving God and the Church, I offer prayers for the eternal rest of his soul,” the Pope said, imparting his apostolic blessing upon the deceased and his community, "as a sign of Christian hope in the Risen Lord."
86-year-old Cardinal Vela Chiriboga died of natural causes at the Saint Camillus Hospice in Quito on 15 November.
“He had been receiving palliative care at the hospice for several weeks due to various health complications,” the archdiocese said.
The Cardinal’s funeral Mass takes place on 17 November in the Cathedral of Quito.
The Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference said they mourn his loss, but are consoled knowing that as a faithful servant, God will receive him into his glory: “We thank God for his generous dedication to the Church and the Ecuadorian people,” they said asking “all the faithful for their prayers for his eternal rest.”
Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga (born 1 January 1934 in Riobamba) was the Archbishop Emeritus of Quito. He served as archbishop of Quito, the capital of Ecuador from 2003 to 2010, when Fausto Trávez Trávez was appointed as his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI elevated Vela Chiriboga to the status of cardinal at a consistory on 20 November 2010, making him Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Via.
In 2015, Pope Francis named Cardinal Vela Chiriboga to be his Special Envoy to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress of Peru.