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Cardinal Ambrozic

· Holy Father sends his condolences on the death of the Archbishop emeritus of Toronto ·

On learning of the death of Cardinal Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, Archbishop emeritus of Toronto, Canada, on Friday, 26 August, after a long illness, the Holy Father addressed a Telegram to Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto. Cardinal Ambrozic was 81 years old. The following is the text of the Pope's Telegram which was released on Saturday, 27 August.

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop emeritus of Toronto. I offer you, the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese my heartfelt condolences and the assurance of my prayers. I recall with gratitude the Cardinal's dedication and service to the Church in his adopted country. I join you and all who mourn him, including the members of the late Cardinal's family, in commending his noble soul to the infinite mercy of God our loving Father. To all assembled for the solemn funeral rites, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the Lord.

Benedictus pp. XVI

Aloysius Ambrozic was born on 27 January 1930 in Gabrje, Slovenia, in the former Yugoslavia. He was the second of the seven children of Aloysius Ambrozic and Helen Pecar. In 1945, when Aloysius was 15, his family fled to Austria where they lived for the next three years in refugee camps. His first-hand experience of this difficult situation, made the defence of migrants’ and refugees’ rights a constant priority for him.

In September 1948, his family emigrated to Toronto. Soon after arriving in Canada, Ambrozic entered St Augustine's Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1955. That Mass was celebrated in at least 32 languages in Toronto.

He served as parish priest of Santa Teresa in Port Colborne and taught Latin at the seminary. From 1957-1960 in Rome, he earned a degree in theology at the Angelicum , and in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. In 1970 he earned a doctorate in  theology at the University of Würzburg, Germany.

He was professor of New Testament exegesis at the Toronto School of Theology and dean of studies at St Augustine's Seminary until 1976. This same year Paul VI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto and he chose: Iesus est Dominus as his episcopal motto. In 1986 he became Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto and succeeded as Archbishop in 1990.

He was one of the four Bishops who represented Canada at the Synod in 1990 on priestly formation and one of the delegates to the Synod on Consecrated Life in 1994. As a member of the Theological Commission and, for four years, of the Pastoral Group of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference.

John Paul II created him a Cardinal-Priest in 1998 with the title of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro. He was also President of the Commission for Migrants. He was a member of various discasteries of the Roman Curia and in 2004 was asked to join the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See. In 2005 Cardinal Ambrozic took part in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

The 17th World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002 was a unique moment in his mission as Archbishop. Cardinal Ambrozic was responsible for the initiative. Despite the tragic events of “9/11”, he had had no qualms about the Day being held the following year. In his opinion the important message of the Youth Day in Toronto was “Christ alone is the cornerstone of a new civilization”.

Cardinal Ambrozic is remembered as a deeply humble man who preferred action to words, who respected one and all but who firmly upheld the basic truths of the faith.

His funeral was celebrated on Wednesday, 31 August, at St Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto, where on the previous day people had come to pay their last respects as he lay in state.

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