Late cardinal of India remembered for his serenity in suffering

Pope Francis administers last rites to Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy during his funeral Mass on June 5, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

During the funeral Mass for Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy, who passed away Monday, fellow cardinals gathered to commemorate his life of service, as well as his sense of peace in the midst of suffering.

“For two decades (he) dedicated his energy to the great cause of the evangelization of peoples until when, tried by illness, he continued to serve the Church with the prayer of suffering, with an attitude of great serenity” Cardinal Angelo Sodano recalled in his June 5 homily for the Mass.

Taking place at 11:30 a.m. in Rome, Cardinal Lourdusamy’s funeral was held inside St. Peter’s Basilica and was presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.

Born in Kalleri, India in 1924, Cardinal Lourdusamy was ordained a priest for the archdiocese of ‎Pondicherry at the age of 27. In 1962 he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Bangalore, and just two years later was made the diocese’s Coadjutor Bishop.

In 1968 he was made archbishop of the ‎Bangalore archdiocese, and he held that position until his appointment as an official of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples by Pope Paul VI in 1971.

Following 14 years of service in that capacity, the cardinal was elevated to the cardinalate by John Paul II in 1985, and just five months later was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He held that post until he needed to resign in 1991 due to poor health.

“In the silence of the night three days ago, from his bed of pain in the Pius XI clinic” Cardinal Lourdusamy was able to repeat “the words of the elderly Simon: ‘Now, Lord, you may let your servant depart in peace’” Cardinal Sodano reflected in his homily.

“Abandoned into the hands of the Lord this faithful servant of the Church peacefully closed his eyes on the scene of this world, to open them to the light of eternity.”

Describing the late cardinal as “a zealous priest” who served the Church for 20 years not only in his home country of India but also for 20 years in in Rome, the dean of cardinals noted that “in these final years from his bed of pain our dear Cardinal continued, always in a serene way, this apostolic action.”

Recalling how the cardinal would sometimes quote John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter on Pain “Salvifici doloris,” Cardinal Sodano stated that “it seemed that our Cardinal wanted to repeat the words of St Paul: ‘I rejoice in my sufferings for you.’”

“Yes, dear Cardinal Lourdusamy, all the angels and saints accompany you in paradise! In particular Holy Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, of those to whom you were a devoted son” he concluded.

“May the saints and martyrs of your dear Indian land welcome you. Dear brother, rest in peace!”

Following the cardinal’s homily Pope Francis came to give the last rites to Cardinal Lourdusamy, and to commend his soul to heaven.

In a June 2 message addressed to Archbishop Anthony Anandarayar of the Pondicherry and Cuddalore archdiocese on the occasion of the cardinal’s death, Pope Francis offered his “‎deepest condolences” to the priests, religious and laypersons of the diocese.

“I pray ‎that God the Father of mercies may grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble ‎soul into the peace and joy of heaven” he said.

“To all assembled for the solemn funeral Mass, I cordially ‎impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord.‎”


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