CARDINAL Pericle Felici, 70, one of the most influential conservatives in the Church's central
administration, died unexpectedly on Monday.
Cardinal Felici was participating in a Marian ceremony in Foggia Cathedral, South Italy, when he suffered a heart attack which caused his death in the local hospital a few hours later. Felici was solidly built and energetic but he had previous heart trouble.
He was head of the Commission for Canon Law Revision which recently completed its work which has lasted since the Second Vatican Council (it is not known when the revised Canon Law will be promulgated). During the Council, Felici was an efficent Secretary-General.
A native of Segni in the hills outside Rome, Felici was a canonist who took a particular interest in Freudian psychology. He had a ready wit and could extemporise verse in Latin. He also travelled extensively and was enthusiastic for the latest technological gadgets: from his apartment overlooking St Peter's Square he could record the Papal ceremonies in which he participated. He announced Pope John Paul ll's election from the St Peter's Loggia.
He presided over the Church's supreme court, the Apostolic Signature.
Felici was a typical curial conservative combining a dazzling legal knowledge with a tough, almost roughhouse approach in meetings. He seemed to relish clashes with prelates as varied as Cardinal Michele Pellegrin, former Archbishop of Turin, Archbishop Guilford Young of Hobart, Tasmania and, indirectly, Archbishop John Quinn, whose raised the question of widespread indifference to the Church's anticontraceptive teachings at the last Synod of Bishops. Felici's reply was that Church teaching cannot be determined by statistics.