INTRODUCTION: Pope John Paul the Second celebrated the funeral Mass for the Vatican Secretary of State Jean Villot in St.
INTRODUCTION: Pope John Paul the Second celebrated the funeral Mass for the Vatican Secretary of State Jean Villot in St. Peter's Basilica on Tuesday (13 March). The seventy-three-year old French Cardinal died on Friday (9 March).
SYNOPSIS: Cardinal Villot had been Vatican Secretary of State since 1969. After Pope John Paul was elected last October, the Cardinal had asked to retire, but he agreed to the Pope's request to stay on. Cardinal Villot had been ordained a priest in 1930, and created a Cardinal in 1965.
This was the first time in many years that a Pope had officiated at a funeral. He was assisted by thirty-four cardinals. Pope John Paul said he could not express his sorrow for a man who had served his Church with experience, advice and competence.
The Pope told the assembled Cardinals and other mourners that, only a week ago, Cardinal Villot had looked so full of life it was difficult to imagine his hour had come. Cardinal Villot spent two years as Archbishop of Lyon. He served three Popes as Secretary of State -- the most senior position in the Roman Catholic hierarchy after the Pontiff himself. He will be buried in the Roman Church of Trinita dei Monti at the head of the Spanish Steps.