VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a message of condolence upon learning of the death of the first Polynesian bishop in the history of the Church, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, 82.
In a telegram sent to Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga of Samoa-Apia, the Pope expressed his sympathy for the death Thursday of the retired archbishop of the diocese.
He was distinguished, said the Holy Father, for his "unwavering commitment to the truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Benedict XVI extended his sympathy to the clergy, the religious and all the faithful of the archdiocese, and to the Society of Mary, to which the deceased cardinal belonged.
May the Lord grant him "the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of heaven," he said.
The cardinal's funeral will be held next Saturday. He will be buried in Apia's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The native Samoan was ordained a priest of the Marist fathers at 31. Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal in 1973.
With his death the College of Cardinals now has 178 cardinals, including 111 electors.
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Pope's Message on Death of Polynesian Cardinal
"A Towering Figure of Unwavering Commitment to the Truth"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is message Benedict XVI sent upon hearing of the death of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, retired archbishop of Samoa-Apia, first Polynesian bishop in the history of the Church.
* * *
To my Brother
His Excellency Alapati Lui Mataeliga
Archbishop of Samoa-Apia
Having learned with sorrow of the death of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, S.M., I offer heartfelt condolences to you and all the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, together with the members of the Society of Mary.
I also extend my sympathy to the civic authorities of the region and indeed all the peoples of the Pacific, for whom the late cardinal has been a towering figure of unwavering commitment to the truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this time of deep mourning I join with you in praying that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God our merciful father will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of heaven.
To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
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