Sunday, December 11, 2011

"We Offer Him Back to God With Gratitude": For Foley, His Knights' Tribute... and the Vatican's

11am Eastern -- Upon news of this morning's death of Cardinal John Foley, the following statement has been released by his successor as head of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien:
In his almost 50 years as priest and bishop Cardinal John Patrick Foley was totally and singularly dedicated to Christ and His Church.

As editor of Philadelphia's Catholic Standard and Times and later as President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican, the Cardinal's professionalism and integrity was universally respected among his peers. For members of the press and for the English-speaking public around the world, in press conferences and radio and television commentaries, he was a gifted evangelizer, explaining Catholic teaching and practice clearly and thoroughly and often with a self-deprecating humor.

He has long been regarded as the patriarch of the American Catholic press.

During his four years leading the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem-years he compared to "a spiritual retreat"-the order grew significantly in lieutenancies and numbers throughout the world, largely due to his devoted commitment to the Church in the Holy Land and his constant travel. I will be ever grateful for his words of support and counsel these three brief months since my appointment as Pro-Grand Master of the Order.

The Cardinal frequently expressed his gratitude in being able to spend his final months in his beloved Philadelphia and among his brother priests. His love for the priesthood was extraordinary. He faced his impending death with remarkable serenity, looking forward in Christian hope to the reward that awaited him in Christ.

Though very many of us will miss him, we prayerfully offer him back to God with gratitude for his friendship, his sterling priestly example and his many contributions to the kingdom of God on earth.

May he rest in peace.
In the footsteps of the Philadelphia native, the New York-born prelate's August appointment as the millennium-old group's second non-European Grand Master was seen as a vindication of Foley's brief, but exceptionally successful tenure leading the Knights and Ladies, whose modern membership is principally concentrated in the English-speaking world, a plurality of them in the US.

From Rome, meanwhile, speaking to Vatican Radio on the loss of his longtime colleague and close friend, the Holy See's lead spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, paid an emotional tribute, saying that "all those who knew him admired and loved him so much for his kindness and his spirituality: he really was a man of a high spiritual caliber.

Foley "personified friendly relations in the best way," Lombardi added," in being "open and attentive about the church in the world of social communications, not [seeing it] as an 'impersonal' world, but as a world 'of persons.'"