MANILA - Pope Francis has offered his condolences to Cebuanos who are mourning the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
Pope Francis sent a telegram to Vidal's successor, Archbishop Jose Palma, expressing his gratitude for the cardinal's service to the Church and for the people of the Philippines.
"Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu," the pontiff said.
"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."
The 86-year-old prelate, who served as the archbishop of Cebu for nearly three decades, passed away on Wednesday morning due to complications from pneumonia.
Filipino bishops have also expressed their sorrow and admiration for Vidal who is considered as one of the most prominent figures in the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.
Vidal, who was born in Marinduque, was ordained into priesthood on March 17, 1956.
In 1971, he was ordained as a bishop and was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan.
His next assignment was as archbishop of the Lipa archdiocese in Batangas until he was transferred to Cebu where he served the remaining years of his ministry.
It was Pope John Paul II who elevated Vidal to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1985, becoming the fourth Filipino to be made a prince of the Church.
He also served as the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from 1986 to 1987.
Vidal participated in the conclave which elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.
He was also in Rome in 2016 when Francis ascended into the papacy but no longer as a voting cardinal. Vidal was already over 80 years old at the time of the conclave and therefore no longer eligible to vote, according to Church's law.