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Pope accepts resignation of cardinal who went missing

Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama, was found in a town some 25 miles north of his diocese after 48 hours
Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama.

Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama. (Photo: Vatican News)

Published: February 16, 2024 05:20 AM GMT
Updated: February 21, 2024 07:15 AM GMT

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama, two weeks after he had gone missing for 48 hours and was found well but "a bit disoriented."

Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa of Panama said that the cardinal was found "in good health" and was being treated by paramedics after he was found in a town some 25 miles north of his diocese.

His disappearance had provoked a police search and a nationwide call for prayers for the cardinal.

The Vatican announced Feb. 15 that the pope accepted the resignation of the cardinal, who will celebrate his 80th birthday Feb. 24.

On the same day, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named Franciscan Father Luis Enrique Saldaña Guerra, provincial minister of the order's Province of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe of Central America and the Caribbean, to be the new bishop of David, a city in western Panama. Cardinal Lacunza had been bishop there since 1999.

Bishop-designate Saldaña, who shares a birthday with Cardinal Lacunza, will turn 58.

Born in David, he studied philosophy in Guatemala and theology in El Salvador. He made his solemn vows as a Franciscan in 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood April 29, 2006. He has served at parishes and schools in Panama and as deputy director of the Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro in La Antigua, Guatemala, which provides health care and rehabilitation to thousands of poor people each year. He has been the Franciscan provincial minister for Central America since 2021.

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