In a letter of condolence Pope Francis has offered his comfort and prayer to the Church of Hungary following the recent death of Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, archbishop emeritus of Budapest. “I was saddened to learn the news of the death of His Eminence Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, OFM,” the Pope said in an Aug. 18 letter, written in English and addressed to the current archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Cardinal Peter Erdo. “I offer prayerful condolences to you, the clergy, men and women religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest, and I thank Almighty God for his many years of service to the Church in Hungary.” Francis commended the late cardinal’s soul to the merciful love of the Father and assured his spiritual unity with all those attending the upcoming funeral rites. “I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.” The late Cardinal Laszlo Paskai passed away yesterday at the age of 88. Born May 8, 1928 in Szeged, he was ordained a priest May 3, 1951 in the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly knowns as the Franciscans. His parents were of Jewish decent, and although they had converted to Catholicism, they were killed in the Holocaust. Bl. Pope Paul VI named him apostolic administrator of Veszprem March 2, 1978, and he was ordained bishop March 31, 1979. In 1982 Pope St. John Paul II named him coadjutor archbishop of Kalocsa, and just five years after, on May 3, 1987, he was tapped to lead the Archdiocese of Esztergom Budapest, holding the title of Primate of Hungary. St. John Paul II elevated him to the cardinalate in June 1988, assigning him to the titular see of the Santa Teresa al Corso d’Italia in Rome. Cardinal Paskai retired from his pastoral governance of Esztergom Budapest in December 2002. Although he no longer held active pastoral responsibilities, the cardinal participated in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal’s funeral will be held Aug. 21 in Budapest. With his death, the College of Cardinals now consists of 219 members; 120 under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave, and 99 of non-voting age.