Pacific Catholics mourn death of Samoan Cardinal

The Catholic Church in both Samoas is mourning the loss of Cardinal Pio Taofinuu, who died at the age of 81 in the early hours of Friday morning, in Apia.

Radio New Zealand reports that Cardinal Pio was the first Pacific islander to be appointed Cardinal.

This was in 1973, three years after the first and only visit by a Pope to Samoa.

Cardinal Pio was ordained a priest in 1954 and became a bishop in 1968.

Cardinal Pio is largely responsible for the inculturation of the services of the Mass incorporating traditions such as the presentation of sua, the ifoga and presentation of ulas during Eucharist celebrations.

The Cardinal was was also effective in talking young men and women to take up religious vocations.

The Vicar general of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago Fr Viane Etuale says funeral services for the Cardinal will be held next weekend in Apia.

Pope Benedict XVI issued the following condolence message in English: "I offer heartfelt condolences to you and all the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, together with the members of the Society of Mary. I also extend my sympathy to the civic authorities of the region and indeed all the peoples of the Pacific, for whom the late Cardinal has been a towering figure of unwavering commitment to the truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this time of deep mourning I join with you in praying that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God our merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labours and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of Heaven. To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

Catholic Church in both Samoas mourning the loss of Cardinal Pio Taofinuu (Radio New Zealand 20/1/06)
Il cordoglio del Papa per la morte del Cardinale Taofinu'u (L'Osservatore Romain 22/1/06 - temporary url)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in Samoa (Salesian Bulletin)
Pio Cardinal Taofinu'u, S. M. | Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u SM (austoceaniabishops.org)

23 Jan 2006