Thursday, January 29, 2015

Edmund Szoka | U.S. cardinal, 86

Edmund Szoka, 86, an American cardinal who served as governor and financial administrator of the Vatican and was a confidant of St. John Paul II, died of natural causes Wednesday at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Mich., the Archdiocese of Detroit said in a statement Thursday.

Cardinal Szoka received his first assignment as a priest in 1954, as associate pastor of a parish in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

By the early 1990s, he was the Vatican's point man for finance. And by the end of that decade, he was running Vatican City.

In between, he honed his administrative skills as the first bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord and, later, archbishop of Detroit.

John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1988.

Cardinal Szoka grew close to the Polish-born John Paul II, spending Christmas and Easter dinners with him, prayed for the pontiff at his deathbed, and led a rosary in St. Peter's Square the night he died.

In 1990, Cardinal Szoka became president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, which audits Vatican accounts, approves or disapproves budgets, and handles major financial transactions such as buying and selling property.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation a day after his 79th birthday in 2006. - AP

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