MANILA - (3rd UPDATE) Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, one of the country's most influential Catholic Church leaders, died on Wednesday. He was 86.
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.
He passed away in the intensive care unit at 7:28 a.m. Wednesday, said a DZMM report quoting Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Cebu archdiocese.
At Vidal's deathbed were his former secretaries and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Tan said, adding that the prelate's passing was peaceful.
Vidal was the oldest of 4 cardinals in the Philippines. The other cardinals are Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.
Vidal served as a priest for 61 years, nearly 3 decades of which he served as archbishop of Cebu before he retired in 2011.
He was also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 1985 to 1987, according to the Vatican press office.
During this time, Vidal rallied the public to pray amid escalating tensions which eventually led to the EDSA Revolution that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos from power.
Vidal also participated in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI as the successor of Pope John Paul II.
In June 2016, Vidal paid President Rodrigo Duterte a courtesy call, which the former archbishop considered as a door that can open communications between the Catholic Church and the government.
Vidal had urged fellow Catholic leaders to refrain from criticizing Duterte, who was then just a month into his presidency.
The prelate also said illegal drugs are a menace to society, but evaded questions on his views about the iron-fist approach of the administration in running after criminals.
Vidal had wished to be buried in Cebu together with his father, siblings and other relatives.
Archbishop Palma will lead a Mass for the cardinal at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Malacañang, meanwhile, extended its condolences to Cebu Catholics for the passing of the prelate.
“President Rodrigo Duterte and Cardinal Vidal had a friendly, cordial relationship. The good cardinal paid a courtesy call to Malacañang shortly after PRRD assumed office and assured the Chief Executive of his fervent prayers for him and his administration,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“We are thankful for the kind bishop's pastoral role of the Catholic faithful.”
With Jun Perez and Vilma Andales, ABS-CBN News