French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, an experienced diplomat and head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, died at the age of 75 in Hartford, Conn., where he was receiving medical treatment.
The cardinal, who had been living with Parkinson’s disease, led a Vatican delegation to Saudi Arabia in April.
But it was his role as “proto-deacon” or top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, that put him more squarely in the spotlight, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, “Habemus papam,” “We have a pope.”
In a telegram to the cardinal’s sister, Pope Francis extended his condolences and praised the cardinal’s “sense of service and his love for the church.”
Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the Church, the pope said, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims.
“I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease,” he wrote.
Born in Bordeaux, France, April 5, 1943, the cardinal was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service in 1975. He worked in apostolic nunciatures in the Dominican Republic and Lebanon from 1975 to 1983.
St. John Paul ordained him an archbishop in January 1991 and elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 2003.