Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Death in the "Family"

Breaking briefly from the papal visit, one of the Vatican's lead commanders in the "culture wars" has died in Rome. 

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family since 1990, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo was 72. 

According to wire reports, the Colombian prelate had been hospitalized for complications from diabetes; at the council's plenary earlier this month, Pope Benedict offered prayers for the cardinal's recovery in his absence. Formerly archbishop of Medellin and once president of the CELAM -- the regional superconference of the Latin American bishops -- Lopez was ordained a priest in 1960 and a bishop eleven years later, at age 35. Created a cardinal at age 47, he was the youngest cleric to receive the red hat in over three decades.

The cardinal died at 11pm Rome time (5pm Eastern) tonight, surrounded by family, collaborators in the Roman Curia and the dean of the College of Cardinals, the former Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. A cardinal-bishop, Lopez's passing opens a spot in the top rank of the "papal senate," with the vacancy likely to go to the current SegStat, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB. Of course, it also opens a key vacancy in the Curia's top rank, for which B16 now has the opportunity to appoint a voice in his own mold.

Lacking Lopez, the college of cardinals now numbers 118 members under the age of 80 who may enter a conclave.