Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cardinal Bernardin Gantin

It has been announced that Cardinal Bernardin Gantin died in Paris yesterday.

"He was appointed at the age of 34, auxilary bishop of the diocese of Cotonou

In 1960 he was appointed the first black Roman Catholic archbishop in Africa

In 1971, Pope Paul VI summoned him to Rome as number 2 at Propaganda Fide (now the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples) the Vatican congregation charged with activities in the missions.

Three years later he was made vice president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

A year later he became its president, and in 1977 Paul VI named him a Cardinal.

The following year, the short-lived John Paul I appointed Gantin president of Cor Unum, the pontifical council charged with distributing humanitarian aid.

Six years later, Pope John Paul II (with whom Gantin had been friends since their meeting at Vatican II) appointed him to one of the most important posts in the Roman Curia as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In 1993, Gantin became the first African to be made Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals

In 1998 he retired from the Congregation of Bishops, and in 2002, he petitioned John Paul II to let him retire as Dean. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) replaced him.

Gantin was free to become, as he said with a certain irony “a Roman missionary in Africa.” He retired there in relative poverty, explaining: “Materially I don’t have anything anymore. Better that way! This material poverty helps me to live spiritual poverty better.” "