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Pope Benedict mourns passing of Franciscan cardinal
Cindy Wooden
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, April 5, 2009
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VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Benedict XVI remembered the late Cardinal Umberto Betti as a Franciscan who served the church with zeal, particularly as a theological expert at the Second Vatican Council and later as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Betti, who turned 87 March 7, died April 1, at the Convent of St. Francis in Fiesole, in central Italy. His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 186 members, 115 of whom are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
In a telegram of condolence sent April 2 to the minister general of the Franciscans, Pope Benedict said, "With a heart grateful to the Lord, I remember the ministry carried out with zeal by the late lamented cardinal, particularly as an illustrious theological expert during the Second Vatican Council, an appreciated consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Secretariat of State and as rector of the Pontifical Lateran University."
The cardinal's contacts with Pope Benedict go back more than 40 years to Vatican II, where both of them served as theological experts and both worked on the council's document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum.
Their collaboration continued when the future pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was named prefect of the doctrinal congregation in 1981; the future Cardinal Betti served as a consultant to the congregation from the 1960s until 1997.
Pope Benedict named him to the College of Cardinals in 2007.
Born in central Italy in 1922, Umberto Betti was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. After earning a doctorate in dogmatic theology, he began teaching at the Franciscan-run Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome, serving as rector, 1975-78.

He continued teaching at the university until 1991, when Pope John Paul II named him rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, the university where Rome diocesan seminarians study. He also served as a consultant to the Vatican Secretariat of State.

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