Cardinal Castrillón justified using the cartel’s money by saying it would otherwise have gone to illegal undertakings. (He told cartel members, though, that giving alms “would not save their souls.”)
Posing as a milkman, he once audaciously knocked on Mr. Escobar’s door. When Mr. Escobar demanded to know who had sent him, the cardinal replied: “The one who will judge you.”
He even pried a confession from Mr. Escobar, who offered to dismantle his drug empire if the president of Colombia promised not to extradite him. Otherwise, he told the cardinal, “if I have to kill the whole of Colombia just to stay here with my wife, I’ll do it without flinching.” His offer was rejected; Mr. Escobar was killed by Colombian police in 1993.
The cardinal also persuaded the pope in 2007 to issue an edict granting priests permission to celebrate the old Latin Mass, its pre-Vatican II form. In 2008, he became the first cardinal to celebrate Tridentine Mass, as it was called, in 40 years.
As president of the Pontifical Commission, Cardinal Castrillón was instrumental in Pope Benedict’s decision in 2009 to revoke the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X, including one, it turned out, who, apparently unbeknown to the cardinal or the pope, had denied the scope of the Holocaust.
When Cardinal Castrillón retired later that year, shortly after he turned 80, the pope subordinated the Pontifical Commission under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, apparently in response to a backlash over the bishops’ reinstatement.
Dario del Nino Jesus Castrillón Hoyos was born on July 4, 1929 in Medellín, Colombia, to Manuel Castrillón Castrillón and Maria Hoyos Salas.