The pro-life community is honouring one of their most resolute members in the Vatican, Alfonso Cardinal Trujillo, who died April 19 at the age of 72. Ordained in 1960 in Bogota, Colombia, Trujillo had served as the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family since his appointment by the late Pope John Paul II in 1990.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote to the cardinal’s family, praising him for “his wide-ranging ministerial work – as priest and auxiliary bishop of Bogota, as archbishop of Medellin, secretary and president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and, finally, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family” that Benedict said “is clear evidence of his profound love for the church and his dedication to the noble cause of promoting marriage and the Christian family.”

Tributes have been pouring in from around the world, praising the cardinal for his unwavering and energetic defence of the family and the sanctity of human life at the international level.

Fr. Frank Pavone, head of U.S. Priests for Life, called him “one of the church’s strongest advocates for the dignity of the human person and the family.” He added, “And both his friends and his enemies knew it.”

“He knew and often said that the church’s pro-life stance was not just a teaching, but a battle, and he willingly undertook the sacrifices of that battle in his own life.”

John Smeaton, head of the U.K.’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, called Trujillo, “one of the world’s greatest defenders of the sanctity of human life.” Smeaton credited Trujillo with the launching of the international pro-life effort that now transcends national boundaries. Smeaton wrote: “In 1994, when the United Nations threatened to reach an international agreement supporting the right to abortion, the cardinal sparked a lightning storm of activity around the world, which transformed the pro-life battle at an international level.”

In 1995, Trujillo’s activism resulted in a remarkable turn-around at the now-infamous Cairo Conference, at which an alliance of religious groups drew together to stop the threat against the unborn growing at the UN. “Hundreds of delegates from pro-family and pro-life NGOs from around the world, including the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, personally encouraged by the cardinal, went to the United Nations Conference on Population and Development in Cairo to lobby. The pro-abortion lobby’s objectives for the Cairo conference were defeated,” Smeaton wrote.

Smeaton recommended to readers Trujillo’s paper, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality” for its definitive presentation and clarification of the Catholic church’s teaching on anti-life, anti-family sex education that is currently favoured in the schools of secular countries around the world.

This year, Trujillo announced the start of the Vatican’s campaign to institute a United Nations moratorium on abortion, which will begin in Latin America. It had been planned that he would go directly to heads of national governments, as well as organizations throughout Latin America, in an attempt to convince them to sign a petition to the United Nations to halt abortions worldwide. The cardinal was to continue from Latin America to the United States, Canada and then to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

As head of the Council for the Family, Trujillo was frequently the voice of clarity defending and explaining many of the church’s teachings on “difficult” topics. In 2003, Trujillo was given the hostile attention of the mainstream press for having denounced the use of condoms in AIDS prevention. The world’s media and AIDS organisations alike went into a frenzy of condemnation when he pointed out that condoms do not provide full protection against HIV/AIDS and tend to increase its spread by creating a false sense of security that encourages dangerous sexual practices.

In May 2005, shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Trujillo told media that gay “marriage” was “a crime which represents the destruction of the world”. He said that parliaments which “open the way for same-sex ‘marriage’…destroy piece by piece the institution of the family, the most valuable heritage of peoples and humanity. In these unions, there are no promises for the partners or for the children, no stability, nothing before society or God, but they demand all the benefits of authentic marriage.” This was a reiteration of an earlier statement in 2004, when he said that homosexual civil unions are a “grave sign of dehumanization.”

This article originally appeared April 21 on and is reprinted with permission.