CEBU Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal personally conveyed a message of prayer and good wishes from the Filipino people to Pope Francis.

“I told him (Pope) ‘I bring with me our prayers and sacrifice of our people for your good health as you govern the Church of God,’” Vidal told reporters yesterday.

The 82-year-old prelate arrived in Cebu last Thursday after almost three weeks in Rome, Italy as one of the cardinal-priests who made preparations for the conclave that elected Francis.

“I am very grateful to take part in the choosing of the new pope,” said Vidal.

“I couldn’t enter the conclave because I am overage but I took part in all the preparations,” he said.

In the last conclave, cardinals above 80 years old were no longer required to participate in the election of the pontiff.

When asked for his comment on the first Jesuit and non-European pope, Vidal said it was too early to tell if there would be changes under the new pontificate.

Down to earth

“Let us see what will happen,” he said.

Vidal described the Argentine pontiff as “like a father to everybody, down to earth, so gentle and very approachable.”

“We conversed in Spanish and he was surprised. He asked me where I learned my Spanish, I said I learned in the seminary,” said Vidal.

Yesterday, Vidal had a fever and colds and only committed to a short interview. After talking to reporters, he left the Our Lady of Fatima Parish where he concelebrated the requiem for the late Fr. Raul Gallego with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and three other bishops.

In a separate interview, Palma said Pope Francis was already invited by Vidal and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to come to the Philippines for the International Eucharistic Congress celebration.

“I am happy he (Pope) made known that a visit is possible,” said Palma.

He said he would be going to Rome, Italy himself next month to attend the meeting on the event.

“Ampo lang kita (Let us pray the pope can visit),” Vidal said.

“He (Pope Francis) is used to traveling,” he said.