Dom Cláudio Hummes was the 18th bishop of São Paulo, its 6th archbishop and the 4th to hold the position of cardinal, one of the highest positions in the Catholic Church. The Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo died this Monday (4) at the age of 87 due to lung cancer.
Born in Montenegro (RS) in 1934, Hummes entered the religious life of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, received priestly ordination in 1958 and episcopal ordination in 1975.
In a long ministry, the religious dedicated himself, in particular, to defending the rights of workers and indigenous peoples.
peoples of the amazon
The fight against deforestation, violence and diseases, which put Amazonian populations at risk, was part of Dom Cláudio Hummes’ pastoral life.
Speaking at COP21, in December 2015, he expressed support for the indigenous way of life: “it is necessary to defend them, defend their rights, give them again the possibility of being the protagonists of their history, the subjects of their history . Everything was taken from them: the identity, the land, the languages, their culture, their history, everything,” he said.
In October 2019, the Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region was convened, which made it possible to focus collective attention on the region’s problems. Appointed general rapporteur, the cardinal proposed to the participants of the assembly the search for new paths for the Church in the Amazon.
“Indigenous peoples have shown in many ways that they want the Church’s support in defending and protecting their rights, in building their future. And they ask that the Church be a constant ally”, said the cardinal in the new room of the Synod. “Indigenous peoples must be restored and guaranteed the right to be protagonists of their history, subjects and not objects of the spirit and action of anyone’s colonialism,” he added.
In 2020, the religious was named president of the newly created Amazon Ecclesial Conference. In action, Hummes defended that the assembly’s nominations be put into practice.
“The Synod is the high point that illuminates the paths. But it continues now, the whole process will also continue in the post-synodal application, in the territory and in all places where there is a connection”, he told the Vatican media, through which he also denounced the “serious climate and ecological crisis” that really puts at risk “the future of the planet and, therefore, the future of humanity”.
Appointed Bishop by Pope Paul VI in March 1975, Dom Cláudio Hummes took over the Diocese of Santo André (SP) in December of the same year, and remained there for 21 years, until 1996, when he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Fortaleza ( EC).
In Santo André, Hummes closely followed the labor movement in Brazil, including the ABC metalworkers’ general strike at the end of the 1970s. took a stand against the dismissals of the protesters.
In Fortaleza, between 1996 and 1998, Hummes coordinated actions with families, especially with the poorest and most indebted, in the context of the preparation of the 2nd Meeting of Families with Pope John Paul II and of the Pastoral Theological Congress on the Family, in October 1997 .
“Don’t forget the poor”
In 1998, Dom Cláudio Hummes was appointed Archbishop of São Paulo by Pope John Paul II, remaining in the archdiocese until 2006.
In his position, he supported employment and income generation projects, and promoted the “Charity Seminar”, starting in 2001, to map out actions aimed at the poorest that the Church in São Paulo was carrying out at that time.
In 2006, the cardinal was appointed by Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, a position he held until 2010, when, at age 75, he submitted a request for resignation due to an age limit.
Dom Cláudio was also a prominent presence in the 2013 conclave, which elected the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as pope.
To his Argentine friend, sitting next to him, when he reached the number of votes needed to be elected, he whispered in his ear: “Don’t forget the poor “.
From the cardinal’s words came the inspiration for choosing the name of the pope then newly elected. The revelation was made by Pope Francis to journalists in 2013.
“I had by my side Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo and also Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy: a great friend, a great friend! When the case started to get a little ‘dangerous’, he cheered me up. And when the votes reached two-thirds, there was the usual applause, because the pope was elected. He hugged me, kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget about the poor!’. And that word stuck in his head: the poor, the poor. Soon after, associating with the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi,” the pope said.
In June 2021, after receiving the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the National University of Rosario (UNR), in Argentina, Pope Francis wrote to Archbishop Cláudio thanking him for “the example he gave me during his life”, and recalling two phrases pronounced shortly after being elected pope, when Dom Cláudio told him: “this is how the Holy Spirit works” and “don’t forget the poor”.
The pontiff emphasized that the Brazilian cardinal is among those “leaders who have the courage to open paths, paths, and to provoke dreams; the courage to continue always looking to the horizon for the problems and difficulties on the way”.
Source: CNN Brasil