Pontiff at Cardinal's Funeral: New Life Starts Now

Reflects on Participation in Christ's Glory

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- For those without faith, all is irremediably lost with death. But for believers, new life begins already here below, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Friday when he administered the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and "Valedictio" at the funeral of Cardinal Luigi Poggi, who died May 4.

The funeral Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

Before the mystery of death, the Holy Father reflected, "for the man who has no faith everything seems irremediably lost."

But the word of Christ "clarifies the way of life and gives value to every moment," he said. "Jesus Christ is the Lord of life, and he came to raise on the last day all that the Father has entrusted to him."

Thus, the Pontiff affirmed, sorrow at death is "mitigated by hope in the resurrection, founded on the very word of Jesus."

Benedict XVI cited St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, "But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." He said Cardinal Poggi is now living what "the Apostle writes in regard to the mystical union of the baptized with Christ dead and resurrected."

He is "living in the celestial reality, detached from the conditions imposed on human nature by sin," the Pope explained.
 
"The sacramental but real union with the Paschal Mystery of Christ opens to the baptized the prospect of participating in his very glory," he continued. This "has a consequence already for life down here because, if in virtue of baptism we are now participating in the resurrection of Christ, then we can now walk in a new life."

The Pontiff said that because of this, the "pious death of a brother in Christ," especially that of a priest, "is always a reason for profound and grateful wonder at the design of divine paternity, which frees us from the power of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of his beloved Son."
 Biography  Born in Piacenza, Italy, Luigi Poggi was ordained to the priesthood in 1940, and to the episcopate in 1965.  Father Poggi was sent to Rome in 1944 to study diplomacy at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and began working at the Secretariat of State.

The Pope recalled at the funeral how that time was characterized by "difficult years, in the course of which [Father Poggi] did not spare himself in serving the Church."  In 1966, he was named pro-nuncio, a title then given to Vatican ambassadors to some countries, to Cameroon. The following year he became pro-nuncio to Gabon and to the Central African Republic.   In 1969, Archbishop Poggi became the Holy See's ambassador to Peru.  In 1973, he was named nuncio with a special responsibility to improve relations with Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia (modern-day Czech Republic and Slovakia), Romania and Bulgaria.  Two years later, the archbishop was appointed to head the Vatican delegation for permanent working contact with Poland.

The Pontiff recalled how at the school of his superior, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, he became "a protagonist of the Vatican ostpolitik in the countries of the Communist bloc."

In 1986, the archbishop became apostolic nuncio to Italy. He became a cardinal in 1994, and served as archivist and librarian at the Vatican Secret Archives and Vatican Library until he retired in 1998.