JAPANESE CARDINAL Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, the retired Archbishop of Tokyo, has died at the age of 81.
Vatican Radio said the cardinal had been suffering from cardiac problems and recently moved to the Jesuit-run Loyola House, a home for aged priests in Tokyo, where he died. Known particularly for his support for the Catholic communities in China, his efforts to promote interreligious dialogue and his commitment to assisting refugees, Cardinal Shirayanagi retired in June 2000 after 30 years at the helm of the Archdiocese of Tokyo.
His death leaves Japan without a cardinal and leaves the College of Cardinals with 184 members, 112 of whom are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
Pope Benedict XVI offered his condolences to Tokyo’s Catholics in a telegram sent to the city’s current Catholic leader, Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada.