SAO PAULO -- On Monday, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a Brazilian Catholic cardinal, died at the age of 87. He was a prominent advocate for the poor and one of the country's most important religious leaders.
Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo, stated that Hummes died after a long battle with cancer. He had previously been the archbishop of Sao Paulo, and before that of Fortaleza.
Hummes was also prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican office that oversees the education and training of Catholic priests. Due to age limitations, he quit the job.
Pope John Paul II made him Sao Paulo’s archbishop in 1998, and three years later, the Brazilian was made a cardinal.
Hummes was seated near Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the conclave's latest session. According to the pope, the Brazilian encouraged Hummes as the end neared.
Francis described Hummes as a "great friend, a great buddy" during his first press conference following election. He cheered me up when things got a bit dangerous. When the vote reached two-thirds, the customary applause began as the pope was elected. He hugged and kissed me, saying: "Do not forget the poor."
Francis chose to name himself after St. Francis, who was especially dedicated to caring for the poor.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (leftist former Brazilian President), who leads polls for a return to office after October's election, was a friend to "Dom Claudio," as Brazilians refer to him. Hummes, however, was considered moderate by the Catholic church.
On Twitter, da Silva stated that "His unconditional love and support for others always put him side by the poorest of situations."
Brazil's President Jairbolsonaro, whose far right-leaning administration was frequently criticized by Hummes has not commented on the death of the cardinal.
Hummes also dedicated himself to the causes of the Amazon, and Indigenous peoples. These Indigenous peoples have often had difficult relationships with religious leaders from other communities. The Synod of the Pan-Amazonian Region, October 2019, was inspired by the cardinal. It focused on environmental issues.
Hummes stated that "Indigenous Peoples have shown in many different ways they want our Church to defend and preserve their rights, build them their future," adding that the Indigenous of Amazon should have "the leading role" in their future, far away from "the action by anyone's colonialism."
Francis was recently named the first ever Amazonian cardinal. This is a result of the importance that the region has held in his pontificate, and the attention he wanted to draw to it.
In 2020, Francis appointed Hummes to head the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon Region. This conference is a result of the synod's debates. In a July 2021 letter, the Brazilian cardinal stated that he was concerned about the hollowness of the debate's decisions.
Hummes wrote, "It's good to keep debating what should be done. But even that is not enough."
Hummes was born in Montenegro in the state Rio Grande do Sul. It is located near Uruguay and Argentina. According to Sao Paulo's archdioceses, Hummes' funeral will be held at the central church of Sao Paulo.