Rodger Cardinal Etchegaray.

Cardinal Etchegaray a key papal envoy

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  • September 13, 2019

VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a longtime Vatican official and papal envoy who was sent to some of the world’s most wounded and challenging places, died in France Sept. 4. He was 96.

A tireless bridge builder, the French cardinal also played key roles in ecumenical relations, including with the late Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, and in interreligious dialogue; he was one of the key organizers of the first Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986, which brought 160 religious leaders together at a time of increasing world tensions and fears of nuclear war.

But it was his efforts spanning two decades as an able negotiator for St. John Paul II that stood out the most: being sent to the Middle East to seek peace, meeting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the hopes of avoiding war in 2003, visiting communist Cuba to meet Fidel Castro, witnessing the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda and encouraging Lebanon to rebuild after 16 years of civil war.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow after hearing the news of the cardinal’s death.

The cardinal “profoundly influenced the journey” of the universal Church and the Church in France, the Pope said in a telegram of condolences released by the Vatican Sept. 5.

“I have fond memories of this man of deep faith” who was greatly esteemed and listened to as an advisor, “especially with delicate situations for the life of the Church in different parts of the world,” the Pope wrote.

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