I was honored, albeit sad, to attend the funeral Mass this morning for Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran about whom, as you know, I’ve written in recent days. It was gratifying to see so many members of the diplomatic corps and equally so to see representatives of other religions, including many non-Christians. Many tributes have appeared since his July 5 death and I have been pleased to note how many were indeed from non-Christian leaders, a tribute to Cardinal Tauran’s tireless work in inter-religious dialogue.
How could we not think of the parallel with St. John Paul II, so very ill for so long with Parkinson’s and yet he kept on “fighting the good fight,” knowing the Lord would call him when it was his time.
I suppose it is very human of me to want to imagine a conversation the two are now having about the Church today, about inter-religious dialogue, about peace in the world.
Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Tauran worked for many years side by side in the Secretariat of State. Sodano was called to serve as Pro-Secretary of State on December 1, 1990. When he became a cardinal on June 28, 1991, he became Secretary of State.
Tauran was named Secretary for Relations with States on the same day, December 1, 1990 and remained there until 2003 when he was named Librarian and Archivist of Holy Roman Church.
I had been working at the Vatican Information Service for only a few months when the press office announced the appointments of Sodano and Tauran on December 1, 1990 – the same day that saw the retirement of Sodano’s predecessor, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, about whom I could write a volume and about whom volumes have been written, most focussing on Casaroli as the architect of the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, its diplomacy with countries of then Communist Eastern Europe.
My superior at VIS, Pedro Brunori decided on the spur of the moment that we should be present in the Secretariat of State where there was a small reception for the outgoing cardinal secretary and to welcome for Sodano and Tauran. He told us to take our Vatican IDs and three of us made our way to the Apostolic Palace, crossing the San Damaso courtyard to elevators that would take us to the Secretariat of State.
I had my doubts about going with Pedro as it was a Saturday and that was the only day of the week I allowed myself to wear slacks or a pantsuit to work. Pedro was nonplussed and said I looked the part as I had black slacks, a white blouse and a red sweater with matching red-white and black scarf.
A fellow American who worked for the Vatican at the time saw me cross the San Damaso courtyard and she said I could not go in slacks. Pedro and my colleague simply nodded, I shrugged my shoulders and we kept walking.
I was awed, as a newcomer in town, so to speak, by the history and beauty of the rooms of the Apostolic Palace and by meeting the outgoing Casaroli, about whom I had written many articles for the Regsiter, and then meeting the new secretary of State Sodano and the new “foreign minister” Tauran.
I will never forget shaking hands with Cardinal Sodano who smiled and said, “Signora, you do us honors today with the colors you are wearing!”
Pedro wanted us to do some PR while we were at the reception. The Vatican Information Service was only a few months old at the time and he wanted everyone to know about this new news service of the Holy See and Vatican.
As I write these lines I think back to the myriad encounters I had during those years I worked for the Vatican. I was present for history-making moments, met the movers and shakers of the Catholic hierarchy on the domestic scene and the international one and have said farewell to the great ones. Like Cardinal Tauran.
And this is why, when people say to me ”God bless you,” my usual reply is “He really has!”
FAREWELL TO A MAN OF THE BEATITUDES
The funeral Mass this morning for Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Tauran died July 5 in the United States after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
While Pope Francis was scheduled to celebrate the valedictorio at the end of the Mass, he was present throughout the entire Eucharistic celebration. (photos by EWTN/CNA’s Daniel Ibanez)
Scores of bishops, archbishops and cardinals were present as were many members of the diplomatic corps and many representatives of other religions. Diplomats and members of other religions were seated in the front rows. At the time of his death, at the end of a long and remarkable career in service to the Holy See, Cardinal Tauran was the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and camerlengo of Holy Roman Church.
The presence of many diplomats was a testament to Cardinal Tauran’s years in the Church’s diplomatic corps. He had previously served in the Secretariat of State as Secretary for Relations with States, the equivalent of a foreign minister.
In his homily, Cardinal Sodano described his French confrère as “a man who courageously served Christ’s holy Church, despite the burden of his illness.”
He centered his homily on the Beatitudes and said they “always illuminated the life of our dearly departed brother, like bright stars along his journey.”
Cardinal Sodano also quoted the very beautiful words of St. Augustine: “Lord, we do not complain because you have taken him away from us; rather, we thank you for having given him to us.”
Referring to the period when he and Cardinal Tauran were colleagues in the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Sodano said: “For many years I witnessed the great apostolic spirit of the late Cardinal, in the long years of common service to the Holy See, and I will keep a grateful memory of it forever.”
“Cardinal Tauran,” continued the dean of the College of Cardinals, “was a great example of a priest, a Bishop, a Cardinal” who dedicated his whole life to the service of the Church; and more recently especially to “dialogue with all men of good will.”
In this way, Cardinal Tauran lived out the words of Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes: “Since God the Father is the origin and purpose of all men, we are all called to be brothers. Therefore, if we have been summoned to the same destiny, human and divine, we can and we should work together without violence and deceit in order to build up the world in genuine peace.”