Cardinal who was Vatican's social voice dies at 72

Francis X. Rocca

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, a prominent voice of the Vatican on sexual and medical ethics, died Sunday (April 20) at the Pius XI Clinic in Rome.

He was 72 and died after suffering cardiac arrest, the Associated Press reported. According to Catholic News Service, he had been hospitalized since early April with a respiratory infection.

Pope Benedict XVI will preside at Lopez Trujillo's funeral in St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday (April 23).

As president of the Pontifical Council for the Family since 1990, Lopez Trujillo helped to lead the Catholic Church's campaigns against abortion, artificial birth control, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.

The Colombian-born cardinal provoked controversy in 2003 when he stated that condoms did not offer reliable protection against the transmission of HIV, a claim contested by medical authorities including the World Health Organization.

Outspoken on the political ramifications of church teaching, Lopez Trujillo denounced Spain's recognition of same-sex marriage in 2005, and called on Spanish officials not to perform such marriages, even if that meant losing their jobs.

On other occasions, the cardinal stated that Catholic politicians who support laws permitting abortion should not receive Communion. Also ineligible to receive Communion, the cardinal said, were Catholics participating in embryonic stem cell research, including women who donated their embryos for experimentation.

Lopez Trujillo was born in Villahermosa, Colombia, on Nov. 8, 1935. He was educated in Colombia and in Rome, where he became a priest in 1960. He became archbishop of Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, in 1979, and served in that role until 1991. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1983. -- Francis X. Rocca

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