Papal envoy Archbishop Ambrose Madtha was buried in his native Beltanghady, southern India, on Saturday following his death in a car crash. The accident occurred on December 8 in the Ivory Coast, his most recent appointment on behalf of The Vatican.
Archbishop Madtha, who was 57 when he died, served as the papal nuncio in six countries including Taiwan, Albania and the Ivory Coast.
Some 3,500 people attended the funeral at the Holy Redeemer parish church in Beltanghady, Karnataka state, including a delegation from the Ivory Coast.
Archbishop Madtha was considered a trusted peace-builder in many of the places in which he was posted.
Imam Dosso, a Muslim leader in the Ivorian delegation, said Archbishop Madtha had built bridges between faiths, recalling an incident when he printed and distributed 120 copies of the Qu’ran after a Christian burned the Islamic holy book, sparking an outcry.
“That is a great gesture … to sustain peace and cordiality. That is why I have come for the funeral,” said Dosso.
In late 2010, he served as a behind-the-scenes broker when former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo tried to cling to power after losing an election.
In Taiwan – his prior posting – Archbishop Madtha arranged for then president, Chen Shui-bian, to attend the funeral of John Paul II. A leader of the diplomatically isolated island had never before visited The Vatican.