Pope Francis mourns ‘self-sacrificing’ cardinal who announced Benedict XVI’s election

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez (1926-2021). / Biblioteca (BCN) Congreso Nacional de Chile via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, who led the Vatican’s liturgy office for six years and was a priest under seven popes, died on Oct. 3 at the age of 94.

Medina was also the cardinal who announced to the world the election of Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005.

He died in Chile, in his hometown of Santiago de Chile, and his funeral was celebrated on Monday in the city’s metropolitan cathedral.

Pope Francis sent a condolence message on Oct. 4 to Cardinal Medina’s relatives and to the Catholics of the dioceses of Rancagua and Valparaíso, which Medina led before taking up his position in the Vatican’s liturgy office.

Francis said that Medina was a “self-sacrificing” priest and bishop who “with fidelity, gave his life to the service of God and the universal Church.”

He added that he was praying for the eternal repose of the cardinal’s soul.

Born on Dec. 23, 1926, Medina was ordained a priest in 1954, after which he began teaching philosophy in the seminary and theology in the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He taught philosophy for 10 years and theology until 1994. From 1974 to 1985, Medina was pro-grand chancellor of the university.

He was also canon penitentiary of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile for many years and served as a judge in the ecclesiastical court.

Pope John XXIII named him a peritus (“expert”) at the Second Vatican Council. He was also later a member of the International Theological Commission and the drafting commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

He was the preacher at Pope John Paul II’s Lenten retreat in 1993, and in 1996 the pope named him pro-prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was prefect of the office from 1998 to 2002.

Medina wrote many books and articles on topics including spirituality and canon law.

In February 1998, John Paul II made him a cardinal. In 2005, Medina participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. As cardinal protodeacon, he announced Benedict’s election and bestowed the papal pallium upon him during his inauguration Mass.

In 2011, Medina was criticized for comments he made about Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest who was later laicized for sexually abusing minors. Karadima was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011 and was being tried by civil authorities.

Medina, who had retired in 2002, expressed doubt that Karadima would be sent to prison for sexual abuse, drawing a distinction between children of age eight or nine and a 17-year-old boy, the age of one of Karadima’s victims.

“With all due respect to the laws of my country, a child of eight or nine is very different from a 17-year-old … A 17-year-old youngster knows what he is doing,” Medina said at the time.

Fernando Batlle, one of Karadima’s victims, criticized the comments as “an attack” on him and those seeking truth and justice.

In 2006, Medina indicated that Benedict XVI was preparing to sweep away restrictions on priests celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass.

“The publication of a motu proprio by the pope allowing for widespread celebration of the Mass in Latin according to the missal of St. Pius V is very near,” he said, months before Benedict XVI issued the document Summorum Pontificum.


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