Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes dies at 87

CNA 5da69aa2bd1bb 166834 Cardinal Cláudio Hummes arrives for the afternoon session of the Amazon Synod, October 8, 2019. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of São Paulo, Brazil, died on Monday after a long illness.

The cardinal, who had a significant role in the 2019 Amazon Synod, was just over a month away from his 88th birthday. He died of lung cancer, according to Brazilian journalist Mirticeli Medeiros.

His death was announced July 4 by Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, current archbishop of São Paulo, who said Hummes’ body will be present for mourning and prayers in the Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo.

Hummes, a member of the Order of Friars Minor, was president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and the newly created Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia (CEAMA).

Pope Francis appointed Hummes relator general of the Synod on the Pan-Amazonian Region and a member of the pre-synodal council. As relator general, Hummes was responsible for writing the synod’s final report.

Hummes was also prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy from 2006-2010, after being made a cardinal in 2001.

He was known for his social activism, including in the areas of climate change, poverty, and protection of indigenous peoples.

A close friend of Pope Francis, after his election, Hummes reportedly embraced him and said, “don’t forget the poor.”

The cardinal was born in Montenegro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 1934, to a German-Brazilian father and German mother.

He took the name Cláudio when he joined the Franciscans, and was ordained a priest in 1958.

Before becoming a bishop, he taught philosophy in seminaries and a Catholic university. He was provincial superior of the Franciscans of Rio Grande do Sul from 1972-1975 and president of the Union of Latin American Conferences of Franciscans.

Hummes studied at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland, and later became an advisor for ecumenical affairs to the bishops’ conference of Brazil.

In March 1975, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Santo André, and the following December succeeded Jorge de Oliveira as bishop.

He became archbishop of Fortaleza in 1996 and archbishop of São Paulo in 1998.

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