Panaji, March 17 : Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who passed away on Sunday, often sought out influential Catholic Church leaders for opinions before taking "far reaching decisions" for the benefit of Goa, Archbisop Filipe Neri Ferrao said.
In his condolence message, Ferrao, whose influential Roman Catholic Church has had several run-ins with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments in the coastal state including those run by Parrikar, also said the 63-year-old politician's "sense of secularism and communal harmony and respect for the various religions, cultures and traditions of the people have been generally appreciated by the population".
Parrikar died on Sunday evening following a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.
"We acknowledge gratefully the respect and consideration he had for the church authorities in this state. He would sometimes seek their opinion before coming out with far-reaching decisions for the benefit of the state," Ferrao said, describing the former Defence Minister's death as a great loss to the people of Goa.
"His appreciation for the contribution of the Catholic educational institutions in Goa was well-known," he also said, while singling Parrikar out for his efficiency and creating lasting infrastructure for hosting two large-scale Catholic events -- the Expositions of the sacred relics of St. Francis Xavier -- in his tenure as Chief Minister.
Nearly 26 per cent of Goa's 1.5 million population is Catholic.