Cardinal Vela Chiriboga, emeritus Archbishop of Quito, dies at 86

CardenalVela VaticanMedia 16112020 Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito, who died Nov. 15, 2020. | Vatican Media.

Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, who served as Archbishop of Quito from 2003 to 2010, died Sunday after spending several weeks in palliative care.

Cardinal Vela, who was 86, died of natural causes at the Saint Camillus Hospice in Quito Nov. 15, the archdiocese told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language news partner.

The cardinal had received palliative care at the hospice "for several weeks due to various health complications," the archdiocese said.

Fr. Alberto Redaelli, the director of the Saint Camillus Hospice, told the archdiocese that the cardinal died "accompanied by his closest family and friends" and "moments before his death they had been praying Vespers."

The funeral Mass will be said. Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of Quito.

The Ecuadorian bishops' conference said they "mourn his loss, but we are consoled knowing that as a faithful servant, God will receive him into his glory. We thank God for his generous dedication to the Church and the Ecuadorian people," and asked "all the faithful for their prayers for his eternal rest."

Cardinal Vela was born Jan. 1, 1934. He studied philosophy and theology at the San José Major Seminary in Quito and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Riobamba July 28, 1957.

In 1969 he was appointed undersecretary of the Ecuadorian bishops' conference.

Vela was appointed auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil April 20, 1972. He served as secretary of the bishops' conference from 1972 to 1975.

On April 29, 1975 he was appointed Bishop of Azogues, where he served until 1989 when he was appointed bishop of the Ecuadorian military ordinariate. He served in that position until 2003, when he was appointed Archbishop of Quito.

Vela served as Archbishop of Quito until Sept. 11, 2010, when he was 76. He was elevated to cardinal that November.

Pope Francis named him his envoy to the Tenth National Eucharistic and Marian Congress of Peru held in Piura in 2015, and also made him his envoy to the jubilee for the 400th anniversary of the death of Saint Rose of Lima, held in 2017 in Peru.

In 2015, shortly before the Synod on the Family, Cardinal Vela told CNA that "The Church is the depository of the faith, and that faith is the teaching of Jesus: we can't go against his commandment."

He said there is no room "to expect 'extraordinary things' from the synod, outside of the doctrine of the faith," and that "fundamental truths" cannot be changed, even "by more news outlets stirring things up by saying things contrary to, or wanting to misinterpret, what the Lord commands."

The cardinal said there is a need to develop "a better pastoral approach to the faithful, as well as to the faithful who are separated, or who are in other unions."

"However, this does not mean that they will again have the opportunity to return to receiving Communion, because their situation is irregular."

What can be done, he added, is "to give them other (spiritual) 'arms', if the term can be used, such as spiritual communion, and feeling supported and aided in prayer, so that they can discover the mercy God has for each of us."

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