Death of Brazilian cardinal José Freire Falcão

Former Archbishop of Brasilia, the federal capital of Brazil, Cardinal José Freire Falcão died Sunday, September 26. Born in October 1925, Cardinal Freire Falçao had become a priest at the age of 23, before being ordained in 1967 bishop of Limoeiro do Norte, his diocese of origin, in the northeast of the country. Then he became Archbishop of Teresina, and finally, for 20 years, that of Brasilia (1984-2004). It was during this period, in 1988, that he was elevated to the cardinalate by John Paul II.

“Pastor passionate about evangelization”

Within the Brazilian Episcopal Conference, he was president of the Basic Education Movement and member of the Permanent Council. Within CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council), he also assumed other responsibilities, notably a vice-presidency as well as being in charge of the section for ecumenism. He participated in the conferences of Medellín (1968) and Puebla (1979).

→ EXPLANATION. How Pope Francis chooses the Cardinals

After learning of his death, Pope Francis greeted in a telegram a “Pastor passionate about evangelization”. With the death of Cardinal Freire Falcão, the number of cardinals who are members of the Sacred College rises to 217, including 121 electors in the event of a conclave, that is to say under 80 years of age.

Four French cardinals would be admitted to the conclave if it were to be held today: Dominique Mamberti, 69, Philippe Barbarin, 70, Jean-Pierre Ricard, 76 and André Vingt-Trois, 78. A fifth cardinal, Paul Poupard, 91, is not an elector.


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