Madagascan Catholics receive papal condolences for cardinal's death


Pope Benedict XVI has sent his condolences for the death of Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, who passed away on January 9 at the age of 84.

In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, the Holy Father described the late cardinal as having “dedicated his entire life to helping Madagascans, as a diocesan priest and later as archbishop of Antananarivo, giving the best of himself that Christ might be announced.”

Pope Benedict also offered a prayer in the telegram, asking that “by the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, the Lord may welcome His faithful servant into His Kingdom of peace and light.”

Cardinal Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, was born in 1925 in Ambohimalaza into a large family with deep Christian roots. He received his primary and secondary education at the parish school of Faravohitra directed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Andohalo. The late cardinal went on to the minor seminary of Ambohipo and finally, to the Jesuit-run St. Michael's College, where he earned his diploma.

After his ordination to the priesthood in 1954, Bishop Sartre sent him to the Catholic Institute in Paris, to study at the Institute of Pastoral Catechesis and the Institute of Social Studies, opposite the chaplaincy for Malagasy students.

He returned to his country in 1956 and became director of catechetical teaching, where he drafted manuals for all the classes aged 12 years and older. At the same time, he was responsible for the spiritual direction of the public and non-confessional private schools, giving 40 hours of his time a week, while also serving as vicar of the cathedral.

The cardinal subsequently became a parish priest in Ambohimitsimbina and then in Ambavahadimitafo. There he organized entertainment for the children of needy families in summer camps run by young volunteers.

He was appointed Bishop of Mahajanga in 1978 and installed the following July. The cardinal visited all of the parishes in his territory, almost always traveling to them on foot. In 1994, he was proclaimed cardinal by the Venerable Pope John Paul II.