Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, died on August 8 in Rome at the age of 98.
Jozef Tomko died at his apartment in Rome, where he was cared for by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, Vatican News reported.
On June 25, he was admitted to the Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital for an injury to the cervical vertebrae, where he remained for six weeks, and received a visit from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Since August 6, he continued his care at home with the assistance of a Vatican nurse and died on the morning of this Monday, August 8.
For his part, on April 30, Pope Francis greeted him in the Paul VI Hall and pointed out during the meeting with the participants of a Slovak pilgrimage that “I cordially greet Cardinal Jozef Tomko, whose presence makes us feel that the Church is a family that knows how to honor old age as a gift” and the Pope joked “I have a doubt, he looks younger than me!”
The Slovak Episcopal Conference reported on the Cardinal’s death, asked the faithful for prayers and explained that the funeral will take place in Rome while the burial will take place in the Cathedral of Saint Elizabeth in Kosice.
Jozef Tomko was born on March 11, 1924 in Udavské, Diocese of Kosice, then a territory of Czechoslovakia.
He studied at the Theological Faculty of Bratislava; at the Lateran University of Rome and the Pontifical Gregorian University where he completed doctorates in theology, canon law, and social sciences.
He was ordained a priest on March 12, 1949 in Rome.
He worked pastorally in the Dioceses of Rome and Porto e Santa Rufina, from 1950 to 1979. He was vice-rector and rector of the Pontifical Nepomucene College in Rome, from 1950 to 1965.
He entered the service of the Holy See in 1962 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He was special secretary of the I Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican from September 29 to October 29, 1967.
He was appointed Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on June 17, 1970.
He was undersecretary of the Congregation for Bishops in 1974 and co-founder of the religious magazine of the Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome.
On July 12, 1979, he was appointed General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
He received episcopal ordination at the Vatican by Saint John Paul II on September 15, 1979.
He attended the III General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate in Puebla, Mexico, from January 27 to February 13, 1979.
He was secretary general of the V Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1980 and of the VI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1983.
On April 24, 1985, he was appointed Pro Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
He was created Cardinal on May 25, 1985; he received the diakonia of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola.
He was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urban University, on May 27, 1985.
He participated in numerous assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, including the II Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985; at the VII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1987; at the VIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1990; at the I Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops in 1991; at the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops in 1994; member of the prosynodal council of the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops, in September 1995; at the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops in 1997; at the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops in 1998; at the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops in 1998 and at the II Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops in 1999.
He was the Pope’s special envoy in many celebrations in various countries, including Uganda, Bogotá (Colombia), Mali, Dakar (Senegal), Cameroon, Kingdom of Tonga, Accra (Ghana), Fiji Islands (Polynesia), Lima (Peru). , in Namibia (Windhoec), in Port-Louis (Mauritius Island) and in Paraná (Argentina), among others.
He attended the IV General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate (CELAM) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from October 12 to 28, 1992.
On January 29, 1996, he opted for the order of cardinal priests and received his title in Santa Sabina.
From April 9, 2001 he was prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
In 2004 he was the papal envoy for the 48th International Eucharistic Congress held in Guadalajara (Mexico) and in 2008 he was the pontifical legate for the celebration of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Québec (Canada).
In 2010 he was a member of the International Commission established to investigate the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje together with Cardinals Camillo Ruini, Vicar Emeritus of the Pope in the Diocese of Rome; Julián Herranz, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Josip Bοzanić, Archbishop of Zagreb (Croatia); Vinko Puljic, then Archbishop of Vrhbosna and President of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In addition, in 2013 he was one of the three cardinals of the Commission investigating the leak of confidential Vatican documents, known by the press as “Vatileaks”.
Cardinal Jozef Tomko, together with Cardinals Julián Herranz and Salvatore De Giorgi, were in charge of carrying out the investigations and delivering to the then Pope Benedict XVI a dossier that collected all the information filed during his months of investigation. The content of the document was totally private and Benedict XVI decided that only the three cardinals and the next Pope could know the content of the dossier.