VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening Benedict XVI presided at the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio" at the end of the funeral Mass for Cardinal Luigi Poggi, archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, who died on 4 May at the age of 92. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, together with a number of members of the college.

"Facing the mystery of death", said the Pope in his homily, "for a person without faith everything seems irredeemably lost. It is the word of Christ, then, that illuminates the path of life and confers value to each moment. ... It was in this horizon of faith that our lamented brother spent his life, consecrated to God and to the service of his brethren, thus becoming a witness of that courageous faith that is able to trust in God.

"We could say that the entire priestly mission of Cardinal Luigi Poggi was dedicated to the direct service of the Holy See", the Pope added, recalling the various stages of the late prelate's career, beginning with his entry in 1945 into what was then the First Section of the Secretariat of State. "Difficult years, in which he spared no efforts in serving the Church", said Pope Benedict.

In 1963 the cardinal went to Tunisia in order to reach a "modus vivendi" between the Holy See and the government of that country concerning the juridical position of the Church there. In 1965 he was appointed as apostolic delegate to Central Africa and made an archbishop. He became apostolic nuncio to Peru in 1969, then returned to Rome in 1973 where he became apostolic nuncio with special functions, particularly that of "maintaining contacts with the governments of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, with a view to improving the situation of the Catholic Church in those States".

When in 1974 relations between the Holy See and Poland were institutionalised, Archbishop Poggi was appointed as head of the Holy See delegation for permanent contacts with the Polish government. "During that period he made numerous trips to Poland, meeting many important political and ecclesiastical figures and playing, following the school of his superior Cardinal Agostino Cairoli, a leading role in the Vatican's 'ostpolitik' towards the countries of the communist bloc".

In 1986 he was appointed as apostolic nuncio to Italy, from which time "the nunciature was given the responsibility of studying the reports concerning episcopal appointments in the country. In the same period, as pontifical representative, he oversaw a delicate period of reorganisation of Italian dioceses".

John Paul II made him a cardinal in the consistory of November 1994, also appointing him as archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, a post he held until 1998.

"'If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him'. ... Our thoughts go to these illuminating words of St. Paul as we render our final emotional homage to dear Cardinal Poggi. ... The sacramental, but real, union with Christ's Paschal mystery opens baptised people to the prospect of sharing in His glory. ... For this reason the pious death of a brother in Christ, and even more so if he is a priest, is always a reason for intimate recognition and wonder at the designs of divine paternity, which frees us from the power of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His beloved Son".

HML/                                                                         VIS 20100510 (590)

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