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Updated: July 31, 2000 05:00 PM GMT
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Archbishop Armando Trindade of Lahore, president of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Pakistan, died of heart failure July 31 as he was being driven to his residence.

Archbishop Trindade, 73, suffered from diabetes and heart disease, and had been advised to take complete rest, Doctor Ansar Haider, the bishop´s physician, told UCA News.

After two weeks in bed, he went with Lahore Vicar General Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani to the Sisters of Charity house at Thorton Road in Lahore July 31. He died as Father Mani was driving him back to the archbishop´s house.

"His Grace was very happy to go out and was very jolly with the sisters," Father Mani told UCA News.

The vicar general said that as they were driving home, they tuned in to the British Broadcasting Company´s Urdu program at around 8:15 p.m. and heard a news item about Christians in Pakistan demanding joint electorates.

Archbishop Trindade was thrilled to hear that news item on the BBC Urdu program, according to Father Mani.

The archbishop said, "Hey, that is about you all. Very good. Get the letter to the Chief Executive (General Pervez Musharraf) and Bishop Samuel Azariah of Raiwind (moderator bishop of the Church of Pakistan) ready and I will sign it and send it forthwith," Father Mani recalled.

"At that time he suddenly fell silent," the priest continued. "A little later, as we were on Mall Road, Lahore, he breathed his last. It was probably about 8:20 p.m.," Father Mani said. He added that he rushed to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore, but it was already too late.

The body was later brought to Adil Hospital in Lahore. No date has been fixed for his funeral.

Reacting to the news, Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad told UCA News, "It is a big loss as we have just got three new bishops in the country. Having his fatherly guidance was very important at this stage."

Father Mani said the death was "a great loss for the whole universal Catholic Church and also a great loss for the Church of Pakistan. It is also a great loss for me."

Archbishop Trindade was involved in the activities of the Federation of Asian Bishops´ Conferences Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs at the time of his death.

He was also actively lobbying for the abolition of Pakistan´s separate electorate system, which religious minorities say alienates them politically.

Father Mani said, "He encouraged us and said that we must push for joint electorates," even suggesting that Bishop Coutts be in the delegation scheduled to meet Musharraf in a few days´ time.

Jesus and Mary Sister Mary of Grace Peat upon hearing of the news of the archbishop´s death, said, "I cannot believe it, he seemed to be recovering so well. It is a big loss for the whole Pakistani Church."

Archbishop Trindade was born on October 25, 1927, in Karachi, on the southern seacoast of what is now Pakistan. He studied at St. Patrick´s High School there before studying for the diocesan priesthood at the Papal Seminary then located in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

He was ordained a priest for Karachi archdiocese in 1950. He became auxiliary bishop of Lahore, about 300 kilometers southeast of Islamabad, in 1973. Two years later, he became the first Pakistani ordinary of the diocese. He became archbishop of the newly elevated archdiocese on April 23, 1994.

The Pakistani prelate was a scholar who was sent for graduate studies to Oxford University in England, and then to Stanford University in the United States for his doctoral degree.

As a priest, he served as assistant priest and school principal at St. Lawrence´s Parish in Karachi and, after earning his doctorate, as principal of St. Francis Grammar School in Quetta, near the Afghanistan border. Before being named bishop, he headed St. Paul´s English High School, back in Karachi.

He also edited "Christian Voice," the Karachi archdiocesan weekly.


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