Pope Francis mourns Italy's former President Giorgio Napolitano
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences mourning the former President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, who died aged 98 on Friday evening at the Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome.
In the telegram addressed to Napolitano's wife, Mrs. Clio Bittoni Napolitano, and published on Friday by the Holy See Press Office, the Pope remembered the Italian statesman with fondness and gratitude.
"The death of your husband, Senator Giorgio Napolitano, has moved me and triggered feelings of gratitude for this statesman who, in the exercise of his high institutional duties, manifested great gifts of intellect and sincere passion for Italian political life as well as a keen interest in the fate of nations," the Pope wrote.
The telegram, sent from the French city of Marseille where the Pope is participating in the concluding session of the annual "Mediterranean Meetings", continued with his personal recollection of the former Italian President.
"I treasure the memories of the personal meetings I had with him, during which I appreciated his humanity and far-sightedness in making upright important choices, especially at delicate moments in the life of the country, with the constant intent to promote unity and concord in a spirit of solidarity, animated by the pursuit of the common good," the Holy Father wrote.
He concluded his message expressing his closeness to Mrs. Napolitano, their children and family members, and assuring them of his prayers.
"In offering my condolences, I invoke upon you and your loved ones the consolation of the heart," he said.
At this Wednesday's General Audience, the Holy Father remembered former President Napolitano in his prayers, noting that he was seriously ill.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella also issued a statement, offering his condolences and praising Napolitano's leadership of Italy.
Born in Naples on 29 June 1925, Napolitano served as the 11th president of the Italian Republic from 2006 to 2015, and was the first head of state to be elected for a second mandate in 2013.