Bible Scholar and World's Oldest Cardinal Dies at 98


Popular Bible scholar and world's oldest cardinal, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, has passed on. The UCA News reported that he died on July 29 in Rome, just five days after he celebrated his 98th birthday.

His death was announced by the Jesuits saying, "In 1941, at the age of 18, he crossed all of France on foot to enter the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Le Vignau. It was a courageous undertaking, as half of France was occupied by the Germans; to reach the free zone, he had to cross the demarcation line clandestinely in order not to be caught and sent to Germany to join the number of young men working for German industry..."

In his condolence message, Pope Francis described the cardinal as "a zealous, religious, spiritual son of St. Ignatius, expert teacher, authoritative biblical scholar, esteemed rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, (and) diligent and wise collaborator of several dicasteries of the Roman Curia."

"I think also of his love for the ministry of preaching, which he exercised with generosity, animated by the passionate desire to communicate the Gospel," the pope added.

Cardinal Vanhoye was born July 24, 1923, in Hazebrouck, France. He started teaching at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in the 1960s. He had served as rector of the institute. Also, he was a longtime member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which engages in scholarly studies at the behest of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Besides, from 1991 to 2001, he worked as secretary of the commission, closely with the commission president, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 and made then-Father Vanhoye a cardinal in his first consistory in 2006.

The College of Cardinals are left with 220 members following the death of Cardinal Vanhoye. Out of this number, 123 are under the age of 80 and are qualified to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.

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