Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, 86, of Benin, whose influence in the Catholic Church was felt in Europe as well as West Africa, has died.

Cardinal Gantin died Tuesday at a Paris hospital of complications caused by dehydration, said Jean-Yves Riocreux, the bishop of Pontoise.

The son of a railway worker, he was archbishop of Cotonou in Benin before going to Rome. He worked closely with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

One of the last cardinals to be named by Pope Paul VI, he spent more than 30 years in the Roman Curia. - AP