Jesuit Cardinal Tomas Spidlik of the Czech Republic died on Friday evening in Rome at the age of 90. The prelate, who was remembered by the Holy Father affectionately on Saturday, leaves a legacy of publications and work to promoting unity between eastern and western Christians.
In his long life, the cardinal was a professor, theologian, writer and academic, who was also involved in radio. According to a biography from the Centro Aletti, a John Paul II inaugurated center founded within the Pontifical Oriental Institute to promote Christianity in Eastern Europe, Cardinal Spidlik had an extraordinary ability to engage an audience and made great steps to developing eastern Christian spirituality.
The "Centro," of which he formed a part, describes him as "one of the greatest experts of the spirituality of eastern Christianity today."
In a telegram to Superior General of the Jesuits on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the "strong emotion" he felt upon learning of the cardinal's "pious departure."
It was "with profound gratitude," the Holy Father wrote, that he recalled the "solid faith, paternal affability and the intense cultural and ecclesial industriousness" of the late cardinal, especially regarding his great knowledge of eastern Christian spirituality.
Cardinal Spidlik was also remembered for his work in promoting cooperation between Christians and leaders from the East and West by Vatican Radio on Saturday morning. Their report underlined his work for a spiritually united Europe, the "two lungs" that John Paul II described as essential to the vitality of the Church.
The Holy See's radio station was particularly close to him, and he to it, as he had spent a half-century working with their Czech transmissions.
Just recently the Holy Father thanked the The cardinal for his legacy.
Exactly four months ago today, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation to Cardinal Spidlik personally during a Mass to celebrate his 90th birthday. He said during the homily that the cardinal's "long life and his singular walk of faith are testimony of how God guides whomever entrusts himself to Him."
Remembering the "rich" thought of the cardinal, the Pope praised the "ardor and deep conviction" with which he announced the centrality of the Triune God and man's communion with him through freedom and love.
He added that Cardinal Spidlik possessed a "vivacious and... original theological vision" which was able to bring eastern and western Christians together, “reciprocally exchanging their gifts."
The funeral ceremony for the cardinal will be held next Tuesday at St. Peter's Basilica. Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will preside over the Mass together with other cardinals. Following the Eucharistic celebration, Pope Benedict XVI will make an address and officiate at the Ultima Commendatio and the Valedictio.
According to L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Spidlik leaves behind a bibliography of over 600 articles and 140 volumes.