Oldest Pinoy cardinal dies

[UPDATED] Born in Catanduanes, Jose Cardinal Sanchez once rose to become a top Vatican official and later campaigned against the reproductive health bill

ALMOST 92. Jose Cardinal Sanchez would have marked his 92nd birthday on March 17. Photo from the CBCP website

[UPDATED] MANILA, Philippines – The oldest Filipino prince of the Catholic Church, Jose Cardinal Sanchez, died almost a week before his 92nd birthday, a bishop close to him confirmed.

Sanchez, archbishop emeritus of Nueva Segovia and bishop emeritus of Lucena, Quezon, died at around 4 a.m. on Friday, March 9, Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias said in a phone interview with Rappler.

The Diocese of Novaliches is making funeral arrangements for Sanchez, Tobias said. The bishop explained that Sanchez decided to retire in the said diocese, whose members then took care of him in his last days.

While relatively unknown in the Philippines, Sanchez rose to become a top Vatican official in 1991 as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

He was born in Pandan, Catanduanes on March 17, 1920, and became a priest in Naga City on May 12, 1946, according to his profile on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

His remains lie in state at the Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother Chapel at 872 St Joseph St, Commonwealth Ave, Quezon City until 5 am Saturday, March 10, Tobias said in a statement.

“Please omit flowers!” noted Tobias, suggesting that those who wish to can donate instead to Sanchez’s “favorite” concerns: support for priestly and religious vocations.

His funeral will afterwards be held at the Cathedral-Shrine of the Good Shepherd, Regalado Ave, Fairview Park, Quezon City.

Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal will preside over Sanchez’s funeral mass on Monday, March 12, at 10 am.

In a statement, Malacañang expressed regrets over Sanchez’s death. “The loss of Cardinal Sanchez will be deeply felt by the Catholic Church the world over,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Home for campaign vs RH

In 2011, he returned to the Philippines after 25 years in Vatican City, and helped the Catholic Church in its campaign against the reproductive health bill.

“I’m 91 years old already but I said I want to go home to the Philippines and somehow use my voice in the pastoral life of the Church,” Sanchez said in an interview with CBCP Media last year.

Sanchez said the bill could begin the passage of more “immoral and anti-Christian laws.” “I only pray that the Filipinos become more aware of this… we have our tradition and that is protecting our family from the beginning,” he said.

His first public appearance when he returned was during an anti-RH billy at the Quirino Grandstand last year, CBCP Media said. 

The 2 other Filipino cardinals left after Sanchez’s death are Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. 

In the Catholic Church, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, cardinals counsel the Pope, aid him in the government of the Church, and assist him in certain liturgical services. Those who are under the age of 80 can also elect the next Pope in case the current one dies or resigns. – Rappler.com