Cardinal Velasio De Paolis

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis is seen in Rome in this 2013 file photo. The 81-year-old cardinal died Sept. 9 in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis who oversaw the Vatican-led reform and reorganization of the Legionaries of Christ died in Rome just several days before his 82nd birthday. He died of cancer Sept. 9 at the age of 81.

An expert in church law who specialized in religious institutes, the Italian cardinal was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to be his papal delegate with broad powers of authority over the Legionaries following an apostolic visitation of the order.

His role as papal delegate to the Legionaries from 2010 to 2014 also included guiding its lay branch, Regnum Christi, and advising that it become separate from – though affiliated with – the Legionaries.

He taught moral theology and canon law for many years in Rome and also served in various positions within his religious order.

He served as president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See from 2008 until 2011.

He was a member of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature and he served as a consultant to a number of Vatican bodies, including the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Cardinal De Paolis’ death leaves the College of Cardinals with 220 members, 120 of whom are younger than the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

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