Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, the Indian papal envoy to the Ivory Coast, was killed in a road accident.
“Unfortunately the apostolic nuncio died on the spot,” said Mathieu Tehan, spokesman for the western diocese of Man.
The prelate was travelling back from the northwestern town of Odienne to an ordination ceremony in the country’s west on Dec. 8 when his car collided with another vehicle.
President Alassane Ouattara, in a statement, expressed his “deep regret” at the loss and sent condolences to the church and Madtha’s family.
Madtha, born in Karnataka, became the doyen of the Ivorian diplomatic corps after arriving in there in 2008.
He tried to play a behind-the-scenes mediating role during Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 political crisis when the previous ruler, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down even though Ouattara was declared winner of presidential elections.
The Catholic church was put in a delicate position since some of the country’s bishops favoured Gbagbo, who comes from the country’s majority Christian south.
Ouattara is from the largely Muslim north.