By Matters India Reporter
Mumbai, August 7, 2019: Pope Francis had found Sushma Swaraj, India’s former foreign minister who died on August 6, “a very spiritual person,” according to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the head of the Catholic Church in the country.
The cardinal, who is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and archbishop of Bombay, mourned Swaraj’s death saying the nation has lost a great Indian.
“She was a very able administrator, a versatile leader and was effective in every assignment given to her,” the cardinal wrote in his condolence message.
The cardinal recalled Swaraj meeting Pope Francis when she had led an Indian delegation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the Vatican.
“She met Pope Francis on the occasion and the Holy Father later remarked that the Indian foreign Minister is a very spiritual person,” said the cardinal, who is a member of the Pope’s advisory council.
The prelate said he had met Swaraj in 2003 when she was the health minister in the Vajpayee government. “From the interaction I had with her, I sensed that she brought a human touch to all decisions of the ministry,” he added.
According the Indian Church leader, Swaraj was “our best ambassador” as the foreign minister since she could project “the great image of the country in international circles.”
He also said that “all Indians abroad who were in any difficulty found in her a sympathetic minister who went out of her way to help them.”
The cardinal recalled with gratitude Swaraj’s interest and assistance for the release of Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil who was kept in captivity in Yemen for over a year.
According to Cardinal Gracias, Swaraj led the government delegation for Mother Teresa’s canonization as she had “a special devotion” for the founder of the Missionaries of Charity.
India on August 7 bid an emotional farewell to Swaraj, as her mortal remains were cremated with full state honors in the presence of top political leaders and hundreds of her grieving admirers.
Swaraj died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi late night on August 6 after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 66.
Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri performs the last rites.
Swaraj’s husband Kaushal Swaraj and daughter saluted the mortal remains, wrapped in a tricolor, as they were kept on a hearse decorated with flowers at the office of the Bharatiya Janata Party, before its final journey to Lodhi Road crematorium.