Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias passes away
Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect Emeritus of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Archbishop Emeritus of Bombay died on Monday in Rome. He was 81.
“The church in India has lost an illustrious son,” is how Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay described the late prelate. “Cardinal Ivan Dias made India proud. …. he loved India, and he worked tirelessly for the progress and uplift of its people,” said Card. Gracias in comments to Crux. Card. Gracias succeeded Card. Dias as Bombay Archbishop in 2006.
The office of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations said the funeral Mass of Card. Dias will be held on Wednesday, 21 June, in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica. At the end of the concelebrated Mass presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis will deliver a valedictory message.
Born on 14 April, 1936 in Bombay, today Mumbai, Cardinal Dias was the second oldest of four sons of Carlo Nazaro Dias and Maria Martins Dias. His father served as an undersecretary for what was then the Bombay Presidency. One of his brothers later became a lieutenant general in the Indian army. After graduating from the Jesuit-run St. Stanislaus High School, he entered the seminary of Bombay archdiocese and was ordained a priest for Bombay Archdiocese On December 8, 1958.
Card. Dias began his pastoral work at St. Stephen’s Church in Bombay until 1961, when he was sent to Rome for higher studies. He was soon picked out for training as diplomat at the Vatican’s prestigious Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. He also obtained a doctorate in canon lawfrom the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. As a young priest in Rome, he helped prepare the first papal visit to India by Pope Paul VI in 1964 for the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay.
After the completion of his diplomatic studied in 1964, Card. Dias served in the Holy See’s missions abroad in the Nordic countries, Indonesia, Madagascar, La Réunion, the Comorros, Mauritius as well as in the Secretariat of State in the Vatican. On 8 May 1982, he was appointed archbishop and Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Ghana, Togo and Benin. He was consecrated bishop on 19 June that year. He later served as Apostolic Nuncio in Korea (1987-91) and Albania (1991-97).
During his term in Albania he helped rebuild the local church after decades of state-imposed atheism. He invited foreign missionaries to the country and worked with the Albanian government to recover Catholic churches and schools that were confiscated under the atheist regime. He helped prepare the daylong visit of Pope St. John Paul II to the homeland land of Mother Teresa of Kolkata on April 25, 1993.
Archbishop of Bombay - cardinal
Pope St. John Paul II recalled him from diplomatic service and appointed him Archbishop of Bombay on November 8, 1996, and in 2001 made him a cardinal. Cardinal Dias was president delegate of the tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in October 2001. The same year, he was named to the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.
Back to Rome - prefect CEP
On May 20, 2006, he was recalled to Rome to serve as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He also was Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbanian University from 2006 to 2011. He retired as p eHe retired ppprefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on May 10, 2011, at the age of 75. He voted in the enclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013. He lived his retired life in Rome.
“Cardinal Ivan had the courage of his convictions. He never wavered in his zeal for Jesus and the Church,” noted Card. Gracias, a member of the “C9” council of cardinals advising the Pope on the overhaul of the Roman Curia. Speaking to Crux he said the loss isn’t just institutional, but also personal. Card. Gracias who was in Rome last week for a “C9” meeting said, “I have lost a beloved friend, mentor and guide.” “Just two days ago I visited His Eminence at the [Fondazione Don Gnocchi] clinic, and his eyes smiled at me. He was clearly happy and pleased that I had come to visit him and have me sit at his bedside. This welcome he gave me just two days ago, fills my heart with gratitude.”
“Cardinal Ivan Dias was a martyr for mission,” Card. Gracias said. “All his health issues stemmed from his extensive and intensive missionary travels. Cardinal Ivan never complained … he endured his illness and intense sufferings with Christian fortitude and heroism.” “The Church in India, and especially the Archdiocese of Bombay, now has a powerful intercessor in heaven. “Cardinal Ivan Dias’s intercessions will bring many graces,” Card. Gracias added.
With the death of Card. Dias, the number of cardinals worldwide stands at 220, of whom 116 are below 80 who are eligible to vote for a new pope at a conclave. The rest are over 80 and hence cannot vote.