The Associated Press Sunday, April 20, 2008; 3:29 PM
VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, a Colombian prelate who helped lead the Vatican's campaign against abortion and insisted condoms do not prevent HIV transmission, has died, one of his assistants said Sunday. He was 72.
Lopez Trujillo died Saturday night at the Pius XI private clinic in Rome, where he had been admitted for tests on March 17, Monsignor Jorge Raigosa said.
He died after suffering cardiac arrest following medical complications over several weeks that had put the cardinal in intensive care at times, said Raigosa, who declined to elaborate.
Vatican Radio said the cardinal had been hospitalized for "grave health problems."
In March 2007, Lopez Trujillo traveled to Mexico to launch the Roman Catholic Church's aggressive campaign against plans in the predominantly Catholic country to legalize abortion. Catholic teaching forbids abortion as a grave sin.
The cardinal inaugurated an international anti-abortion conference in Mexico City by celebrating Mass in the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the most important Catholic shrine in the Americas.
The next month, the Mexico City assembly passed a measure legalizing abortion in the capital during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Opponents appealed the law, and Mexico's Supreme Court is reviewing it.
Lopez Trujillo also made headlines in 2003 for saying that condoms do not prevent HIV transmission. He contended that condoms may even help spread the virus by creating a false sense of security.
The World Health Organization, among others, called the cardinal's message "totally wrong" and said condoms are 90 percent effective when used correctly.
Priests for Life, an organization that seeks to end abortion and euthanasia, hailed Lopez Trujillo as "one of the Church's strongest advocates for the dignity of the human person and the family."
Born in 1935 in Villahermosa, Colombia, Lopez Trujillo moved with his family when he was a young boy to the capital, Bogota. While a university student, he decided to attend a seminary, and later received a philosophy degree from Rome's prestigious Angelicum university.
Lopez Trujillo was ordained a priest in 1960 and made a bishop in 1971 by Pope Paul VI. He later headed the Latin American bishops' conference, CELAM.
He was archbishop of Medellin in 1979 when Pope John Paul II attended a CELAM conference, and in 1983 was elevated to cardinal's rank by the pontiff.
He headed the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family since 1990.
With Lopez Trujillo's death, the number of cardinals eligible to elect a pontiff drops to 118, Vatican Radio said.
Raigosa said Pope Benedict XVI was expected to celebrate a funeral Mass for the cardinal at the Vatican on Wednesday.