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Jozef Tomko, oldest member of Vatican's College of Cardinals, dies at 98

Cardinal Jozef Tomko is seen at Guadalajara International Airport in Guadalajara, Mexico, on October 4. 2004, as a representative of then-Pope John Paul II. Tomko died on Monday at the age of 98. File Photo by Tonatiuh Figueroa/EPA
Cardinal Jozef Tomko is seen at Guadalajara International Airport in Guadalajara, Mexico, on October 4. 2004, as a representative of then-Pope John Paul II. Tomko died on Monday at the age of 98. File Photo by Tonatiuh Figueroa/EPA

Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Catholic Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the Slovakian clergy member who was the oldest member of the Vatican's College of Cardinals, died on Monday, the church said. He was 98.

Tomko, who was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1985, was the prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Evangelization of People.

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The Vatican said that Tomko died in his apartment in Rome, where the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul had been looking after him.

"It is with a heavy heart and at the same time with the hope of resurrection that we announce that His Eminence Cardinal Jozef Tomko rendered his noble soul to the Lord today," the Slovak Bishops'Conference said Monday according to Vatican News.

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"We invite all to include him in their prayers."

Tomko's funeral in Rome and his burial at St. Elizabeth's Cathedral in Kosice, Slovakia, will be announced soon, officials said. St. Elizabeth's Cathedral is Slovakia's largest church.

Before he became a cardinal, Tomko had served as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops for nearly six years. He also served in a range of positions with the Catholic Church and was president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

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Tomko was co-founder of Rome's Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius and served as an assistant and leader in the doctrinal office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Born in Udavske, Czechoslovakia, in 1924, Tomko studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical Lateran University and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received doctorates in theology, canon law and social sciences. The former Czechoslovakia dissolved and split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993.

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