MANILA - Filipino bishops mourned the passing of Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, among the influential leaders of the Roman Catholic church in the Philippines.
In a statement, CBCP President and Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas hailed Vidal's "wisdom and humility" and his years of service to the flock entrusted to him.
"Cardinal Vidal cannot die," Villegas said. "He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth."
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the youngest among Filipino cardinals, called Vidal a " teacher of peace and humility."
"The Archdiocese of Manila is united with the whole Church especially the Archdiocese of Cebu in sorrow at the death of our beloved Cardinal Ricardo Vidal," Tagle said. "We trust that the merciful Lord would grant him eternal rewards in His presence."
For Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Vidal's legacy is his own "outstanding character" like his "simplicity and approachability" despite being a prince of the Church, his ability to listen to opposing views, and his prudence on political issues.
Quevedo, as well as Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, remembered the key role that Vidal played during the fall of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Vidal, who served as president of CBCP during the late part of Marcos regime, issued a letter denouncing the result of the February 1986 snap elections. Marcos won by a slim margin over Corazon Aquino in an election marred by fraud.
"He consolidated the whole CBCP para magkaroon ng isang position which became the famous letter condemning the election," Tobias explained in an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas.
"I think if it was not for him, we would have gotten a difficult time to get into one... but we had to decide what is best for the country and I think what we did after all is the best."
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Cebu archdiocese, announced that the Cardinal passed away at 7:28 a.m., Wednesday.
Vidal had been been in and out of the hospital since 2014 because of complications from pneumonia. Last week, he was confined at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City after suffering cardiac arrest.
Vidal, the fourth Filipino cardinal, remained a prominent voice in Philippine Catholicism and politics until his death.
During the second EDSA uprising in 2001, Vidal urged then-President Joseph Estrada to step down, as the clamor for latter's ouster rose following allegations of corruption.
Later on, Vidal would convince former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to pardon Estrada, who was convicted of plunder.
Two months after the 2016 elections, Vidal met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang amid the tough-talking leader's fiery criticisms against Filipino bishops and clergy.