ROME — Retired U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, who served 23 years as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, issued a statement honoring Polish Cardinal Andrzej Deskur, who died Sept. 3 at the age of 87. The statement was sent by email to Catholic News Service this morning:
The death of Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur marks the end to an era in the work of the Pontifical Council for Social Comunications. Cardinal Deskur became an official of the Secretary of State at the Holy See in 1952; he was soon involved as undersecretary, then secretary, and ultimately president of the commission of the Holy See responsible for the work of communications. The Cardinal was instrumental in preparing Inter Mirifica, the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the media of social communication; he was also involved in the preparation of the pastoral instruction Communio et Progressio, responding to the call of the Vatican Council for an elaboration of the principles of Inter Mirifica.
Cardinal Deskur tragically suffered a stroke on the day before his good friend Karol Wojtyła entered the conclave in which he was elected Pope. Pope John Paul II made his first visit outside the Vatican to bring spiritual consolation to then Archbishop Deskur in his hospital room. It has been reported that Blessed John Paul II considered the illness of his good friend as a type of spiritual sacrifice which helped to sustain the Holy Father in his universal ministry.
As Cardinal Deskur’s successor at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, I am particularly grateful for the friendship and support offered to me by the Cardinal over my twenty-three years in that office. The Secretary of our Pontifical Council, Bishop Pierfranco Pastore, and I were in the habit of visiting Cardinal Deskur almost every day. His apartment was on the floor above our office and we regularly sought to keep him informed about the work of the Council for which he had done so much for so many years. Cardinal Deskur had a particular love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his apartment door carried the sign “Casa di Maria” (house of Mary). He was quite devoted to his most recent responsibilities as President of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate Conception.
Catholic communicators throughout the world can be grateful to Cardinal Deskur for his tireless work on their behalf, and on behalf of communications throughout the Universal Church. May his great soul rest in peace.