The military archbishop, Monsignor Juan del Rio Martin, died this Thursday around eleven in the morning at the “Gómez Ulla” Central Defense Hospital as a result of Covid-19.
The prelate, who was 73 years old, had entered that center last Thursday and since then his state of health worsened until the fatal outcome that occurred this Thursday, the Military Archbishopric reported through a note. “The carelessness and professionalism of health personnel have not managed to prevent their death,” the statement added.
Monsignor Juan del Rio was the military archbishop since September 2008 and as such was entrusted with the spiritual care of the military, the Civil Guard, and the Police. In total, some 300,000 faithful scattered throughout Spain and in different missions abroad.
Born in Ayamonte (Huelva) on October 14, 1947, and ordained a bishop in 2000, the military archbishop was an affable, simple person with a great sense of humor. His gift of people led him to chair the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications for various periods. In fact, last year he had been elected again to head this body of the House of the Church. Between 2009 and 2017, Monsignor Del Río was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and in June 2009 he joined the Central Council of Military Ordinaries.
His work in the pastoral care of the Armed Forces and the State Security Forces led him to create in 2014 the first Caritas Castrense in the world. It was a personal initiative of the archbishop so that all the military parishes could work in the exercise of charity, “one of the pillars of the Christian community,” Monsignor Del Río said at the time, during the inauguration of its headquarters in the city of Madrid.
At the news of his death, the military chaplains, the government teams of the archbishopric and the “Saint John Paul II” seminary, seminarians and staff of the Curia conveyed their condolences and “joined the family in these moments of pain, in addition to raising your prayers for the eternal rest of who was your pastor, “ concludes the note from the archbishopric.
During the eleven months of the pandemic, three bishops have died as a result of Covid-19, although Monsignor Juan Del Rio was the only one who was active. The bishop emeritus of Ciudad Real, Antonio Algora, died in October last year at the age of 80, while Alfonso Milián, bishop emeritus of the diocese of Barbastro-Monzón died in November, also aged 80. In addition, some thirty prelates have had the disease, although most of them mildly.