.- On Sunday, Cardinal Pio Laghi, who served as the first papal nuncio to the United States, passed away at the age of 86. Both Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush have offered their condolences.
The Holy Father offered his prayers for the family of the late cardinal as well as his thanks for the life of service that he lived. In a telegram sent to the nephews of Cardinal Laghi, the Pope spoke of the prelate’s "long and generous service to the Holy See, in particular as pontifical representative in various countries and as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
“To you and your families I wish to express my sincere participation in the mourning that has afflicted all those who knew and respected the late cardinal and, while raising fervent prayer to God to grant him the prize promised to faithful servants of the Gospel, I send my heartfelt apostolic blessing to all those who grieve his passing," Pope Benedict wrote.
President George W. Bush offered condolences on behalf of himself and his wife Laura to Pope Benedict XVI and all Catholics on the passing of Cardinal Pio Laghi.
President Bush called the cardinal “a friend who, in his more than 60 years of service to the Catholic Church, worked tirelessly for peace and justice in our world.”
One aspect highlighted by the president was Cardinal Laghi’s years of service as the first papal nuncio to the United States (1984-1990). These years were characterized by his striving to “unite people of all religions and promote reconciliation, religious freedom, and tolerance,” he said.
A funeral Mass for Cardinal Pio Laghi will be held at the altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 13. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at the funeral Mass with other members of the college.
At the end of the ceremony, the Pope will address those present and administer the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio."