DHAKA, Bangladesh — A leading Bangladeshi archbishop died just weeks after apparently recovering from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Archbishop Moses Costa of Chattogram died while hospitalized in Dhaka July 13 after suffering a series of strokes. He was 69.
He became the most senior Catholic clergyman Bangladesh to die during the coronavirus pandemic, ucanews.com reported.
He was the secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh and led the bishops’ Commission for Health Care. Previously, he served as chairman of the conference’s Commission for Seminary and Commission for Youth.
Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, bishops’ conference president, announced the prelate’s death in a statement and called for prayers.
Costa was hospitalized June 13 in critical condition and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. His condition improved significantly, and he tested negative for the virus on June 22. However, he remained in the hospital for treatment.
He suffered multiple strokes on July 9, according to doctors.
A private funeral service is set for July 14, the archdiocese said.
Manik Willver D’Costa, pastoral coordinator of Chattogram Archdiocese, said Costa’s death is an irreparable loss.
“Besides his extraordinary efforts in laying a strong socioeconomic foundation for the church and revolutionizing the systematic reorganization of church apparatus, he emphasized a spiritual awakening and missionary zeal for clergy, religious and laity,” he said.
“He believed that without becoming a local missionary and helping self-growth and thriving, the church has no future. He was a great visionary and there will be no one like him,” he added.
Costa’s death sent shockwaves among Bangladeshi Catholics at home and abroad. Hundreds posted tributes on social media.
Maulana Amjad Hossain, a Muslim cleric, described the archbishop’s death as the “loss of a great friend” who promoted interfaith harmony.
“Archbishop Moses was a true friend. … He was a man of dialogue who prioritized interfaith harmony. His life and idealism are great inspirations for us all,” Hossain told ucanews.
Born Nov. 17, 1950, the youngest of 10 children, Moses Costa entered the Little Flower Minor Seminary of Bandura in Dhaka in 1963. He joined Holy Cross Congregation, the largest religious order in Bangladesh, in 1971 and professed final vows in order in 1981. He was ordained a priest that year.
On July 20, 1996, St. John Paul II appointed Costa bishop of the Diocese of Dinajpur, where he served until 2011.
Costa was appointed bishop of Chittagong, now Chattogram, in 2011. He became an archbishop when Pope Francis elevated the diocese to an archdiocese in 2017.