Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re celebrates the funeral Mass of fellow Italian Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, with Pope Francis earlier expressing his condolences.

“Cardinal Cacciavillan’s long ecclesial ministry was constantly sustained by the strength of his love for God, for the Church and for the Pope, and was carried out in a spirit of service and with an unwavering enthusiasm.” This is how Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re recalled the late Italian Cardinal who passed away on Saturday.  A long-time diplomat of the Holy See, Cardinal Cacciavillan died at his residence in the Vatican at the age of 94.

Cardinal Re delivered a homily on Monday at the funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was attended by several cardinals, bishops and archbishops present in Rome. “His episcopal motto was ‘In virtute Dei’, which echoes – as he explained – an expression of the Apostle St Peter, affirming that it is God’s power to act in his ministers and recognizing that it is God who saves the world with our cooperation,” Cardinal Re said.

Pope’s condolence

Pope Francis who delivered the Commendation and Valediction at the end of the funeral Mass, had earlier sent a telegram to the late cardinal’s sister, Agnese Cacciavillan in Vicenza, expressing his condolence and closeness to those mourning him.  He said, “I think of this brother who, with exemplary dedication and acuteness of thought, generously lavished the many talents received for the good of the Church.

“God holds the fate of this world in His hands.”

Cardinal Cacciavillan was born on August 14, 1926 in Novale di Valdagno, in the Diocese of Vicenza. He belonged to a large family of 9 children.

Faith, truth and love for souls

Cardinal Re briefly recalled his service to the Church from his priestly ordination in 1949, until his last posting as the president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) in the Vatican, from where he retired on October 1, 2002.

“In all these positions,” Cardinal Re said, “the spirit that animated our deceased Brother was identical: a solid faith, the courage of truth in all circumstances and love for souls.”  He was distinguished by doctrinal competence and complete fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church. The “sensus Ecclesiae” was the inspiring principle of all his activities.

Cardinal Cacciavillan was appreciated everywhere for his genuine spirituality, lively intelligence, balanced judgement, a profound sense of duty and a subtle manner that brought esteem and sympathy.

Trust in Divine Providence

The sense of Divine Providence was ingrained in his soul. He said he learned this at home, especially from his father, and this gave him serenity in even the most difficult and burdensome situations. Through the years, he came to realize more and more that “God holds the fate of this world in his hands”, and in abandoning himself to Divine Providence, “he found serenity and inner peace even in cases that cost him toil and sacrifice”.

Cardinal Re recalled that even though Cardinal Cacciavillan began to experience difficulty in moving about with age, he kept himself busy praying and reading.  His mind was “perfectly lucid” and kept himself informed about the life of the Church.  Even on the day before his death he loved to be informed, he read the newspapers, L’Osservatore Romano, the Bulletin of the Press Office and the press review of the Secretariat of State.