9-September-2002 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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CARDINAL MOREIRA NEVES, LONG THOUGHT "PAPABILE," DEAD AT 76

VATICAN, Sep. 9, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, OP, the Brazilian prelate who for years was considered the most likely successor to Pope John Paul II, died on Monday after a long illness.

The death of Cardinal Moreira Neves, the former prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, had been forced into premature retirement in 2000 because of severe diabetes. He was 76 years old at the time of his death.

A funeral Mass for the deceased cardinal will be celebrated on September 11 in St. Peter's Basilica, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as principal celebrant.

The passing of Cardinal Moreira Neves leaves the College of Cardinals with 117 members who are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a papal conclave.

The grandson of African slaves, Lucas Moreira Neves was born in Brazil in 1925, and entered the Dominican order in 1948. He was named auxiliary bishop of Sao Paolo in 1967, and in 1974 he was called to Rome by Pope Paul VI, who made him vice-president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. In 1979 he was given a new assignment as secretary to the Congregation for Bishops, and in 1980 he was honored by Pope John Paul II with the responsibility for preaching the annual Lenten Retreat at the Vatican.

In 1987 he returned to Brazil as Archbishop of Sao Salvador de Bahia, and the following year he was elevated to the College of Cardinals. In 1998 he returned to the Vatican to head the Congregation for Bishops, but his declining health made it impossible for him to hold that position, and he resigned in September 2000.

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