Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar Dies

United Press International

Eminent Roman Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Basel, Switzerland, early Sunday, two days before he was to have been made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, the Vatican announced. He was 82.

The honor was a mark of the Pope’s special esteem for Von Balthasar’s work as a theologian, which has found expression in 74 books and more than 500 essays and articles.

Von Balthasar became a Jesuit priest in 1936, but was not a bishop. It is extremely rare for a cardinal to be chosen from outside the ranks of the bishops.

A similar honor was bestowed in 1983 on Von Balthasar’s friend and teacher, the Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac, who, at 92, is the oldest member of the College of Cardinals.

Another indication of the pontiff’s personal admiration for the conservative theological ideas of the Swiss thinker came in 1984, when he presented him with the Paul VI International Prize.