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Rome Reports

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Oldest member of the College of Cardinals, Jozef Tomko, dies at 98 years old

Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, passed away Monday morning. At 98 years old, he was the oldest member of the College of Cardinals. 

Tomko was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1985. He was among the few people who were able to enter the late Pope's room on the day of his death, April 2, 2005.

I saw his hands, the very same hands that had consecrated me as a Bishop. I still felt those hands...on my head. I kissed them. It was an extremely moving experience that will stay with me forever

Cardinal Tomko had been in poor health since June, when he was admitted to the Gemelli hospital in Rome with a cervical injury.

During his stay in the hospital he was visited by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Cardinal Tomko was discharged from the hospital on August 6 and was receiving at-home care in his Rome apartment from the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

He was famous for having visited many countries and understanding the reality of the Church in various contexts. Following his death, the Slovak Bishops' Conference issued a statement asking for prayers for his soul.

With the death of Cardinal Tomko, the College of Cardinals is now composed of 206 cardinals, including 116 electors.