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OBIT-STICKLER (UPDATED) Dec-14-2007 (400 words) With photo posted Dec. 13. xxxi

Pope says Austrian cardinal knew loving Christ meant loving church

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said Cardinal Alfons Stickler, who died Dec. 12 at the age of 97, "knew well that to love Christ is to love the church."

The Austrian, who was the world's oldest living cardinal, died in Rome. The cause of death was not announced.

Pope Benedict celebrated his funeral Mass Dec. 14 in St. Peter's Basilica.

In his homily, the pope quoted Cardinal Stickler as saying the church is always holy "despite the weakness -- sometimes scandalous -- of us, its representatives and members in the past and present."

The pope said the cardinal understood that only by having an absolute love for Christ could Christians today remain faithful despite the difficulties and challenges they face.

The late cardinal knew "only a true love for Christ can make (Christians) courageous and persevere in defending the truth of the Catholic faith," the pope said.

In a telegram of condolence to the cardinal's surviving brother and three sisters, Pope Benedict spoke of the cardinal's "many years of sincere and industrious collaboration with the Holy See," particularly his years as prefect of the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives.

In a separate telegram to the superior general of the Salesians, the religious order to which Cardinal Stickler belonged for 80 years, the pope said that, "with profound gratitude, I remember the gifts of mind and heart" of the cardinal.

The pope praised the cardinal especially for his service to the church during his years as a professor and then rector, 1958-66, of the Pontifical Salesian University in Turin, Italy.

Born in Neunkirchen, Austria, Aug. 23, 1910, he was the second of 12 children. He entered the Salesians in 1927 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1937.

He held a doctorate in canon law and served as an expert during the Second Vatican Council.

In 1971, Pope Paul VI named him director of the Vatican Library. In 1984, Pope John Paul II named him prefect of the library and the Vatican Secret Archives and inducted him into the College of Cardinals in 1985. The cardinal retired in 1988.

His death leaves the college with 200 members, 120 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.


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