VATICAN CITY (CNS): India’s most senior archbishop died in a car crash in Poland on June 20.
Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi, who was president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, died instantly when the car he was in served off the road to avoid a cyclist, according to a statement
from the Indian bishops’ conference.
Archbishop de Lastic, 70, was travelling to Warsaw from Krakow, near where he had visited the shrine of the Black Madonna.
The conference’s vice president, Archbishop Mar Basileos of Trivandrum, said in the statement, “We have lost an extraordinary leader in him who gave leadership not only to the Catholic community in India but to all the Christians in the country”.
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, said that “for India, (the archbishop’s death) is a very heavy loss”.
“He was an excellent pastor … and he had such a beautiful personality and temperament,” Cardinal Tomko said on June 21.
Archbishop de Lastic had a remarkable aptitude for dialogue, the cardinal said, pointing to his crucial role in organising Pope John Paul II’s visit to India last November, when religious and political tensions were high.