POPE Francis is mourning the death of Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
In a telegram he sent to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the Pope said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Vidal’s death.
“Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father,” he said.
The pope also imparted his apostolic blessing to those who continue to mourn Vidal’s passing.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan spokesperson, said that they received the Pope’s letter last Wednesday night.
Following Vidal’s death last Wednesday, Palma initially sent a letter, through fax, to the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.
The Papal Nuncio, in turn, sent the message to the Pope.
When he was still alive, Vidal admitted that he was close friends with Pope Francis.
Vidal initially met Pope Francis, whose is name is Jorge Mario Bergolio, after the conclave that elected him as the new pope following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Vidal was one of those who first congratulated Pope Francis in the latter’s election.
Vidal said he was the only cardinal who spoke to Pope Francis longer than 10 minutes due to his fluent command of Spanish.
During the first requiem mass held last Wednesday night, Palma told the faithful that while he was saddened by Vidal’s demise, he was also grateful that the late prelate was brought to Cebu to serve its flock.
“While our hearts are sorrowful, we are grateful to God for his (Vidal’s) ministry in Cebu,” Palma said.
Vidal, who hailed from Mogpog, Marinduque, arrived in Cebu in 1981 after he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Two years later, Vidal was appointed archbishop following the death of Julio Cardinal Rosales.
Palma thanked the people who helped make Vidal’s life in Cebu meaningful.
The 68-year-old prelate recalled that when he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Cebu in 1998, it was Vidal who often came and checked on him on how he was doing.
Palma, who was then parish priest of the Sto. Rosario Parish, said it was his fondest memory of the late Archbishop.
When Palma became Cebu archbishop, Vidal was often there to give him advice.
He said he was impressed by Vidal’s extreme generosity and care for others who needed his help.
“Even until the end of his life, we see how self-sacrificing he is,” Palma added.
In a press conference last Wednesday, Tan announced that Vidal will be buried at the mausoleum of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Oct. 26.
The cathedral mausoleum serves as the final resting place of prominent bishops of Cebu like Cardinal Rosales, Bishop Emeritus of Calbayog Sincero Lucero, Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu Manuel Salvador, Archbishop Emeritus of Lipa Mariano Gaviola and the first Bishop of Cebu Juan Gorordo.
Vidal will be buried at 9 a.m. following the funeral mass.
His body will be transferred to the St. Pedro Calungsod Shrine on D. Jakosalem St. at 7 a.m tomorrow. Vidal was instrumental in the canonization of the first Visayan saint and martyr.
In a related development, officials of the Archdiocesan Commission on Youth (COY) are deferring their activities in relation to the saint’s fifth canonization anniversary.
In a statement, Frankel Margallo, COY youth coordinator, said they were supposed to hold a “Grand Barkadahay ni Pedro Calungsod” on Saturday.
But Margallo said instead of their Grand Barkadahay, members of the COY will offer a tribute and a mass to Vidal tomorrow.
Margallo added that the tribute is the youth’s way of conveying their profound gratitude to the late prelate.
Vidal was also active in developing the Catholic youth movement in Cebu when he instituted the Local World Youth Day in 1985.