Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, a longtime diplomat who was fluent in 17 languages, died June 19 in Rome after a long illness. He was 81.
Cardinal Dias served as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples before his retirement in 2011 and served as archbishop of Mumbai from 1996 to 2006.
His faith and 39 years in the Vatican’s diplomatic service, he said, taught him to avoid confrontation and solve problems through dialogue and fostering goodwill.
But that did not stop him from clearly asserting the rights of Catholics in India and elsewhere to worship freely, to serve the poor and needy and to invite others to join the Catholic Church.
In his preaching and teaching, Cardinal Dias liked to combine quotes from Scripture with everyday images.
The late cardinal was born April 14, 1936, in Bandra, a Catholic stronghold in the western Indian city of Mumbai, then Bombay.
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Mumbai in 1958.
He served at nunciatures in Scandinavia, Indonesia, Madagascar and Mauritius.
St. John Paul made him a cardinal in 2001 and retired Pope Benedict XVI named him prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2006.