Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga was 'a selfless pastor.' (Photo: vaticannews)
Cardinal Raul Vela Chiriboga, retired archbishop of Quito, Ecuador, died Nov. 15 at the age of 86.
Offering his condolences to the people of Quito and to the late cardinal's relatives, Pope Francis called him a "selfless pastor who, for years and with fidelity, gave his life to the service of God and the Church."
The fifth of nine children, he was born in Riobamba, Ecuador, on Jan. 1, 1934, and attended the local Salesian high school before studying philosophy and theology at San Jose Seminary in Quito.
He was ordained in 1957 and in the late 1960s was named director of Caritas Riobamba and worked with the Church's pastoral outreach to the indigenous communities.
St. Paul VI named him auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil in 1972 and, from 1972 to 1975, he served as secretary-general of the Ecuadorian bishops' conference.
In 1975, he was transferred to serve as bishop of Azogues, and in 1989 he was named head of the nation's military ordinariate. While serving in that capacity, he also worked with the bishops' economic affairs council, 1996-1999.
St. John Paul II named him archbishop of Quito in 2003, a post he held until September 2010, when he retired.
Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal two months later.
His death and the death Nov. 16 of Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, the 97-year-old retired archbishop of Wroclaw, leave the College of Cardinals with 216 members, 119 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.