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Pope Francis mourns Venezuelan cardinal who ‘gave his life to the service of God and the Church’
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas speaks with CNA, Feb. 13, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow on Friday at the death of a Venezuelan cardinal who “gave his life to the service of God and the Church.”

The pope paid tribute to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the emeritus archbishop of Caracas, in a telegram issued Sept. 24, the day after the cardinal died following his admission to hospital with COVID-19.

Addressing Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, apostolic administrator of Caracas archdiocese, he wrote: “Upon receiving the news of the death of Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop emeritus of Caracas, I express to your eminence my feelings of sorrow, asking you to kindly convey them also to the relatives of the deceased prelate and to all those who form part of this ecclesial community.”

“Likewise, remembering this devoted pastor who, for years and with fidelity, gave his life to the service of God and the Church, I assure my prayers for the eternal repose of his soul, so that the Lord Jesus may grant him the crown of glory that does not fade, and I impart to all the Apostolic Blessing, as a sign of Christian hope in the Risen Lord.”

Porras announced the death of the 79-year-old cardinal on Sept. 23, almost a month after Urosa was hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus, reported ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.

“Dear Venezuelans, I have to give you the news of the death of my dear brother Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who, after a long illness and convalescence, has surrendered his spirit to the Lord,” Porras said in a video message on the Twitter account of Caracas archdiocese.

“I ask everyone to pray for his eternal rest that grieves the Venezuelan Church and the universal Church. Soon we will be giving details of what we will have to do from the Church of Caracas, Valencia, and all Venezuela to unite in this moment of pain and mourning.”

“Rest in peace our dear brother, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino.”

Urosa was hospitalized on Aug. 27. The following day, the cardinal wrote a message making “a brief declaration of love for God and love for the Church, and of love for the people of Venezuela.”

In his message, Urosa said that he felt “immensely happy to have been a priest” and asked “forgiveness from God and all my brothers for the faults I may have committed, especially for the faults of omission.”

“I also express my great affection for the Venezuelan people and my absolute dedication to their freedom, to their institutions, to defending the rights of the people against the abuses committed by national governments,” he said.

“I hope that Venezuela comes out of this negative situation,” he added.

Urosa was born on Aug. 28, 1942. He was ordained a priest on Aug. 15, 1967, and incardinated in Caracas archdiocese, which covers Venezuela’s capital city.

He obtained a doctorate in dogmatic theology in 1971 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was vice-rector and later rector of the San José Seminary of El Hatillo and rector of the interdiocesan seminary of Caracas, where he was a professor of philosophical anthropology.

He was also president of the Organization of Venezuelan Seminaries and vice-president of the Organization of Latin American Seminaries.

Pope John Paul II named him auxiliary bishop of Caracas on July 3, 1982, and he was ordained on Sept. 22 of that year, aged just 40 years old.

On March 16, 1990, he was appointed archbishop of Valencia, an archdiocese in the northwestern state of Carabobo, where he served for 15 years.

On Sept. 19, 2005, he was named archbishop of Caracas

Pope Benedict XVI gave him the red hat at a consistory on March 24, 2006.

He also attended the family synod in October 2015, standing out for his strong defense of Catholic doctrine, reported ACI Prensa.

In his speech at the synod, Urosa encouraged the synod fathers not to forget the teachings of Jesus and the Church while discussing the possibility of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving the Eucharist.

He was also one of the 13 cardinals who sent a letter to Pope Francis expressing concerns about the synod’s procedures.

Pope Francis accepted Urosa’s resignation as archbishop of Caracas on July 9, 2018, after he passed the retirement age of 75.

Being an archbishop emeritus, he did not attend the Amazon synod in Rome in October 2019, but he wrote several articles in which he recalled the importance of priestly celibacy and highlighted the need for the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel in the Amazon.

He was a sharp critic of the socialist regime of Hugo Chávez, which earned him more than one public attack by the late president. He was also critical of the leadership of Nicolás Maduro, whom he publicly and repeatedly requested, together with the bishops of Venezuela, to leave power, calling for fair and democratic elections.

For years, he promoted the cause of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, the doctor of the poor, who was beatified on April 30, 2021.

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, written by Walter Sánchez Silva. It has been adapted by CNA.