Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara


Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, a retired Vatican official and an outspoken critic of his country's leftist president, died Oct. 16 in Caracas. He was 85. Pope Benedict XVI praised the late cardinal for his many years of hard work and generous service. His long career working both in Venezuela and at the Vatican was a sign of his dedication to living the Gospel and his "deep love for the Church," the pope said in a telegram sent to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas. Cardinal Castillo Lara served for many years at the Vatican, most notably as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of Canon Law, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See and president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. But after his retirement and return to Venezuela, he stood out among Church leaders in Venezuela denouncing President Hugo Chavez's government for becoming increasingly authoritarian. Cardinal Castillo Lara said under Chavez's socialist rule there appeared "manifestations of a dictatorship" and that only a mere "varnish of democracy" was left in the country. During his 22 years of service at the Vatican, the cardinal was often in the spotlight during his tenure as president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, the Vatican's treasury office, from 1989 to 1995. As one of five cardinals overseeing the Vatican bank's operations, Cardinal Castillo Lara admitted in 1993 that the bank had unwittingly been used by an Italian family business conglomerate to launder millions of dollars in bribes to political parties through an account established in 1991 for charitable purposes. Born in San Casimiro, Venezuela, he was ordained a Salesian priest in 1949 by his uncle, Archbishop Lucas Castillo Hernandez of Caracas. Ordained a bishop in 1973 and called to serve in Rome in 1975, he became the first president of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law when it was instituted in 1984.



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