ROME — Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, a longtime president of the former Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, died in Rome April 20 at the age of 89.

In a telegram sent to Bishop Javier Navarro Rodríguez of Zamora, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and fondly recalled his more than 40-year-long friendship with the cardinal, “who faithfully gave his life to the service of God and the universal church for many years.”

Lozano was a well-known theologian in Mexico and spent his years at the pontifical council promoting health care that respects people and defending the teachings of the Catholic Church on human life and sexuality.

Born Jan. 26, 1933, in Toluca, Mexico, he studied at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned degrees in philosophy and theology. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Zamora, Mexico, in 1955.

In Mexico, he was president of the Mexican Theological Society and, in 1975, he was appointed one of the theological experts of the Latin American bishops’ council, known by its Spanish acronym, CELAM.

He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Mexico City in 1979 and was named to head the Diocese of Zacatecas in 1984. He was one of the co-founders of the Pontifical University of Mexico.

He became an archbishop in 1997, shortly after taking over at the now-defunct Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, where he served until his retirement in 2009.

St. John Paul II made him a cardinal in 2003.

His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 210 members, 117 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.