2006-05-20 15:17:36


(May 20, 2006): Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an Indian cardinal to the top Vatican post in charge of the Catholic Church’s missionary activities worldwide. The Vatican on Saturday announced the appointment of Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Bombay, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The 70-year old prelate is the second Indian cardinal to be appointed to a top Vatican department, after now-retired Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy who headed the Congregation for Oriental Churches from 1985 to 1991. Cardinal Ivan Dias succeeds Italian cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who has been appointed archbishop of Naples, in the southern Italy.
Cardinal Dias was born in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, on April 14, 1936, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1958. From 1961 –‘64 he studied at Rome’s Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy which trains future Vatican diplomats. While obtaining a degree in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University in 1964, he worked with the Vatican Secretariat of state planning for the Pope Paul VI’s visit to Bombay that year for the International Eucharistic Congress.
A veteran Vatican diplomat, Cardinal Dias has an impressive record in the Holy See’s missions abroad, mostly in mission countries of Africa and Asia. From ’65 to ’73 he served in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Indonesia, Madagascar, Reunion, Comoros and Mauritius. From 73’ to 82’ he served at a higher level in the Baltic States, Bielorussia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. In 1982, with his appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Togo and Benin, he was ordained a bishop. From ‘87 to ‘91, he was Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to South Korea, after which he was transferred to Albania in 1997 as Apostolic Nuncio. This was a crucial phase in the history of the Balkan nation. Pope John Paul II visited Albania 1993 and reinstated the Church hierarchy in the world's self-declared atheistic nation ordaining 4 new bishops.
In 1996 Cardinal Ivan Dias was appointed Archbishop of Bombay, succeeding Cardinal Simon Pimenta who retired. Late Pope John Paul created him cardinal in 2001. Currently, Cardinal Ivan Dias is member of three Vatican congregations –viz, the Doctrine of the Faith, Divine Cult and the Discipline of the Sacraments and Catholic Education. He is also member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Councils – for Culture and the Laity, as well member of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and of the council of cardinals studying problems related to the organization and finance of the Holy See.

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