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Portuguese Cardinal Policarpo dies suddenly at 78

March 13, 2014

Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, the former Patriarch of Lisbon, died suddenly on March 13 at the age of 78.

Cardinal Policarpo had been on retreat at Fatima when he suffered chest pains. He was taken to a hospital in Lisbon, where he died. In a message of condolence to the Lisbon archdiocese, Pope Francis saluted the deceased Portuguese prelate for his “passionate search for truth,” while in a separate message Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, spoke of his “great wisdom and generosity.”

Born in Alvorninha, Portugal, José da Cruz Policarpo was ordained to the priesthood in Lisbon in 1961. He was a seminary rector and theology professor before being named an auxiliary bishop in 1978. He became coadjutor archbishop of Lisbon in 1997, succeeding to the patriarchate the next year. He was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2001, and retired last May at the age of 77.

With the death of Cardinal Policarpo there are now 217 living cardinals, of whom 120 eligible to vote in a papal election. That number will drop to 119 on March 14, when Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi celebrates his 80th birthday.


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