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Cardinal Sandri turns 80: He announced the death of John Paul II
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Cardinal Leonardo Sandri - Daniel Ibanez CNA

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, marks his 80th birthday today. 

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 18, 1943, to an Italian family, Cardinal Sandri steps out of the circle of cardinal electors in any future conclaves.

His journey in theology began with a degree from the Catholic University of Argentina, followed by ordination as a priest on December 2, 1967. Cardinal Sandri furthered his studies in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, earning his degree in 1970, and was admitted to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1971.

His service in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See took him to the nunciatures in Madagascar and Mauritius, and later to the Secretariat of State in 1977. In 1989, he served as a counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in the United States. On August 26, 1991, Pope John Paul II appointed him as the Regent of the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

April 2, 1992, marked another milestone in his career when he was named Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State by Pope John Paul II. He was later elected as the titular Archbishop of Cittanova on July 22, 1997, and appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela, consecrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

In 2000, he was named Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, and in 2005, returned to the Vatican as the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. On the evening of April 2, 2005, in a St. Peter's Square filled with the faithful, he announced the death of Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute on June 9, 2007. Later that year, on November 24, Benedict XVI created him a Cardinal, assigning him the deaconry of Saints Biagio and Carlo ai Catinari.

Cardinal Sandri has participated in several Synods between 2008 and 2018 and was part of the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis. On June 26, 2018, he was co-opted by Pope Francis into the Order of Bishops and became the Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals in January 2020.

With the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium on June 6, 2022, he assumed the role of Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, retiring from the position on November 21, 2022, due to age limits. 

Following his 80th birthday, the number of cardinal electors stands at 135, while the non-electors are 106.

This article was originally published on ACI Stampa. 

Author Name

Journalist based in Rome. He worked for 'Area' Press Agency, dealing with internal politics, economics but above all with the Vatican. Accredited at the Press Office of the Holy See, professional journalist since 2008, he followed the conclaves of 2005 and 2013. Currently works for ACI Stampa, EWTN News agency in Italian. He is the author, together with his colleague Andrea Gagliarducci, of "La Quaresima della Chiesa", and "Benedetto XVI, a total Pope".

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