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Saturday, April 10, 1999 Published at 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK

World: Americas

Chile mourns Cardinal Henriquez

Crowds turned out to see the former archbishop's motorcade

James Reynolds reports from Santiago: "Flags have been lowered to half mast"
Chile has declared five days of national mourning after the death of Roman Catholic cardinal and veteran Chilean human rights campaigner, Raul Silva Henriquez.

The former archbishop of Santiago failed to recover from a bout of pneumonia complicated by a kidney disorder, in the rest home of the Salesian monastic order in Chile.

He was 91.

[ image: Cardinal Henriquez with General Pinochet after a religious ceremony]
Cardinal Henriquez with General Pinochet after a religious ceremony
Cardinal Henriquez was renowned for defending human rights during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

He was visited by hundreds of people over his last days, including politicians from the left and the right, military commanders, and many ordinary Chileans.

Chile's President Eduardo Frei said Cardinal Henriquez's death represented "a deep pain for the entire nation."

Veteran campaigner

Raul Silva Henriquez headed the Roman Catholic Church in Chile when General Pinochet ousted the elected socialist President Salvador Allende in a coup d'etat in September 1973.

[ image: President Eduardo Frei pays his respects]
President Eduardo Frei pays his respects
His outspokenness on human rights made the Church in Chile a leading opponent of General Pinochet's military regime.

The cardinal became the main defender of those persecuted under the regime, creating the Chilean Committee of Co-operation for Peace in October 1973, which was swiftly suppressed by the military government.

Cardinal Henriquez responded by forming the Solidarity Vicarage, which became a refuge for victims of repression under military rule.

"The cardinal was a very brave man who always said what had to be said even when he was receiving death threats," said Miguel Ortega, a priest who was close to the late cardinal.

The cardinal received frequent death threats during the 17 years of General Pinochet's rule.

Church and state

Cardinal Henriquez' criticism of militant leftists and rightists made him one of the leading Roman Catholic church figures in Latin America during the late 20th century.

[ image: Relatives of disappeared dissidents hold mass for the cardinal]
Relatives of disappeared dissidents hold mass for the cardinal
He was ordained nine years after receiving his law degree in 1929, and was named Archbishop of Santiago in 1960.

But he resigned because of differences with Pope John Paul II.

Cardinal Henriquez later became one of Chile's most forceful advocates of dialogue and reconciliation after years of chaotic marxist-led government and repressive military rule.

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