A life dedicated to the service of the Church and the poor


Following a long illness, Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, of m ., Prefect Emeritus of the Dicastery for the Clergy, died on Monday July 4 at his home in São Paulo, at the age of 87. Having heard the news, the Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Metropolitan Archbishop of São Paulo. The following is a translation of Pope Francis’ telegram which was written in Portuguese, along with a brief biography of the late cardinal.

Having received with deep sadness the news of the death of HE Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of m , your predecessor in the pastoral leadership of the beloved Archdiocese of São Paulo, I wish to assure you of my suffrage prayers to the Almighty for the eternal rest of this dear brother. My prayers are also of gratitude to God for the many years of his devoted and zealous service, always guided by the values ​​of the Gospel, to Holy Mother Church in the various pastoral missions entrusted to her both in Brazil and in Roman times. curie, and to his commitment in recent years to the Church which journeys in the Amazon. Vivid in my memory are the words that Dom Cláudio said to me on May 13, 2013, when he asked me not to forget the poor. As a pledge of consolation and hope in eternal life, I impart to you, Your Eminence, and to all those who join in the prayer for the funeral service of Cardinal Hummes, my Apostolic Blessing.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes was born on August 8, 1934 in Montenegro, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to a family of German immigrants. He entered the seminary of the Order of Friars Minor on February 1, 1952 and took his solemn vows on February 2, 1956. After studying philosophy and theology, he was ordained a priest on August 3, 1958.

He continued his studies in Rome, where he obtained a degree in philosophy in 1963, before returning to Brazil to serve as professor of philosophy at the Franciscan Seminary of Garibaldi and collaborate in the pastoral life of the parish. Between 1965 and 1968 he was an ecumenical adviser to the Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), which then sent him to Switzerland to continue his studies in ecumenical matters at the Institute of Bossey.

From 1969 to 1972 he was professor and rector at the Faculty of Philosophy of Vilmão. During this same period he was also a professor at the Pontifical University of Porto Alegre and an educator of young Franciscan clerics. Between 1972 and 1975 he was provincial superior of his order in Rio Grande do Sul.

One of Cardinal Hummes’ main priorities was the formation of priests. On his return from Rome, he began his service of formation in the post-conciliar climate and in the midst of the crises of certain seminaries. He was attentive without neglecting the practical aspects of the mission, among them the construction of buildings suitable for the formation process. He believed that young people should have access to someone they can trust, to talk about their vocation and to be guided.

Appointed titular bishop of Carcabia and coadjutor of Santo André on March 22, 1975, he was ordained bishop on May 25, 1975 in the cathedral of Porto Alegre. On December 29 of the same year, he succeeded the bishop of Santo André, a diocese where he faced unrest caused by tensions between the steel unions and the military regime at the end of the 1970s. When the government closed union offices, Hummes allowed unionists to meet inside churches. He acted as a mediator between the police and the demonstrators to avoid violence, explaining that his actions were based on the Gospel and that his goal was evangelization. The experience of being involved with the workers made him more aware of the realities of the poor and their suffering, which he said helped him a lot in his later missions.

After leading the Diocese of Santo André for 21 years, the Cardinal was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Fortaleza, where he again witnessed extreme poverty, this time among farmers. He also participated in the organization of the Second World Meeting of Families in Rio de Janeiro in 1997. The following year he was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of São Paulo, where he devoted himself to vocation ministry, the formation of priests and evangelization.

He was a member of the Pontifical Councils for Interreligious Dialogue, for the Family, for Culture, of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

He was created cardinal during the consistory of February 21, 2001. In 2004, he was appointed member of the College of Cardinals for the study of organizational and economic problems of the Holy See. He participated in the Conclave of April 19, 2005 which elected Benedict XVI.


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