Cardinal Paolo Sardi, who served under five popes, died Saturday at Gemelli Hospital in Rome after a short illness.
The 84-year-old Piemontese cardinal had been retired from his work in the Secretariat of State, where he coordinated the office which edits papal speeches and texts.
He most recently had served as pro-patron and then patron of the Sovreign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, a position he held from June 2009 to November 2014.
In a letter of condolence to members of Sardi’s family July 14, Pope Francis praised the cardinal’s “priestly spirit, his theological preparation, his gifts of intelligence and wisdom… through which he has given a valuable contribution to the magisteriums of St. Paul VI, John Paul I, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.”
Thanking God for Sardi’s witness in his service to the Holy See, Francis said he joins his prayers to those of the many Catholics who would join the cardinal at his daily Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, often said at the altar of St. Pope John XXIII.
“Faithful to his episcopal motto, ‘Esto Vigilans,’ he has been good and vigilant, therefore we hope that, accompanied by the Virgin Mary, the saints Peter and Paul, and the Holy Bishop Guido of Acqui, he will be welcomed into the eternal reward of heaven,” the pope prayed.
In 2012, Sardi was accused alongside two others, in an article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, of being complicit in the leaking of sensitive papal information to the media, in the event now referred to as “Vatileaks.”