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Brazilian Cardinal dies in Rome

Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves of Brazil, once a top Vatican official considered a papabile, or possible successor to Pope John Paul II, has died at the age of 76.

Neves, a member of the Dominican Order, was archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia for 11 years until called to the Vatican in 1998, when John Paul made him prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

He stepped down from both positions in 2000 because of his failing health. Vatican officials confirmed his death on Sunday at a Rome clinic, where he was receiving treatment.

At one time, Neves had been considered to be "papabile" - a possible successor to the pope. He was a top churchman in the world's largest Catholic country and was considered a moderate in a sharply divided clergy.

His poor health made him less of a factor in recent years, although he still had been among those cardinals under age 80 who could have voted for a new pope.

Neves was born 16 September, 1925 in Sao Joao del Rei, the first of 10 children. He entered the Dominican order and was ordained a priest in 1950. John Paul promoted him to archbishop in 1979 and cardinal in 1988.

Congregation for Bishops | Pontifical Commission for Latin America
Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, O.P. (

The Guardian-AP

10 Sep 2002