By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai of Lesotho and recalled his religious life and his commitment to vocations and education in the small landlocked country within the borders of South Africa.
“Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai, I extend my heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and laity of the diocese of Mohale’s Hoek,” the Pope said in a telegram to Bishop John Tlhomola of Mohale’s Hoek, Cardinal Khoarai’s successor.
“With gratitude for Cardinal Khoarai’s witness of consecrated life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, his longstanding commitment to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and his dedication to the church’s educational apostolate in Lesotho,” the Pope wrote, “I willingly join you in praying that our heavenly Father may grant him the reward of his tireless labours and welcome his noble soul into the joy of His eternal kingdom.”
"To all who mourn the late cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the resurrection I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus Christ our Saviour,” the Holy Father added.
First cardinal of Lesotho
When Pope Francis created him a cardinal on November 19, 2016, Cardinal Khorai became Lesotho’s first cardinal. However, due to health conditions, the 87-year-old cardinal could not come to the Vatican for the consistory to personally receive the cardinal’s red hat and the ring from the Pope.