MANILA, March 9, 2012 – The fifth Filipino to be elevated to the position of Cardinal has died at the age of 91 years old at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in San Juan City at 4:50 a.m. today. He would have turned 92 on Saturday, March 17.
The retired prelate passed away due to multiple organ failure after being confined to the medical center last week.
Cardinal Sanchez’ nephew Manolo Sanchez told CBCPNews the prelate has been in and out of the hospital.
“He was brought to University of Santo Tomas last February 11 and went home after two weeks,” he said. He added they brought Cardinal Sanchez to Cardinal Santos Medical Center last week.
“He always wanted to go home,” his nephew further said.
His remains will be brought to the Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother School's Chapel at 872 St Joseph St., Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City today.
Tomorrow at 5 a.m., his remains will then be brought to the Good Shepherded Cathedral along Regalado Avenue, in Novaliches, Quezon City until the funeral on Monday, March 12, to be presided by retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
“We violated his wish to be buried immediately without embalming,” Manolo Sanchez said. He added doctors advised burial should be held not later than tomorrow should there be no embalming.
CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma described Cardinal Sanchez as a “Prelate of passionate love: he loved God and loved the Church with joy and dedication.”
Archbishop Palma said through Cardinal Sanchez’ various capacities whether in the curia or the diocese, his zeal was exemplary.
“He left a legacy of ministry worthy of emulation and a source of pride for us Filipinos,” he added.
“May he receive the reward for good and faithful servants,” he concluded.
The late Cardinal was born on March 17, 1920 in Pandan, Catanduanes and was ordained priest of Sorsogon at the age of 26 years old on May 12, 1946. At the age of 47, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Caceres, then known as Nueva Caceres on February 5, 1968 and Titular Bishop of Lezvi. The Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Carmine Rocco ordained him to the episcopacy. The principal co-consecrators were Bishops Flaviano Ariola and Arnulfo S. Arcilla.
He was named Coadjutor Bishop of Lucena (with the right of succession) on December 13, 1971 at age 51. He succeeded the late Bishop Alfredo Mario Obviar on September 25, 1976.
After over five years, he was named Archbishop of Nueva Segovia on January 12, 1982 and on October 30, 1985, he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
He resigned on March 22, 1986 from the See of Nueva Segovia but on June 28, 1991, he was elevated to Cardinal and appointed Cardinal-Deacon of S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna during the Consistory of 1991.
Then Pope John Paul II named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy on July 1, 1991 and was appointed President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. At age 73, he resigned from the position.
Cardinal Sanchez retired on January 15, 1996 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
He was appointed Cardinal-Priest of S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna on February 26, 2002 at age 81.
During the Conclave of 2005, he has already reached non-voting age.
He was a priest for over 65 years, a bishop of over 43 years and a cardinal for more than 20 years.
Cardinal Sanchez was the principal consecrator of Bishops Camilo Diaz Gregorio and Manolo Alarcon delos Santos.
He was the fifth Filipino named to the College of Cardinals after Archbishop Rufino Jiao Cardinal Santos of Manila (March 28, 1960), Archbishop Julio Ras Cardinal Rosales of Cebu (April 28, 1969), Archbishop Jaime L. Sin of Manila (May 24, 1976) and Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Jamin Vidal (May 25, 1985).
The latest to be elevated to the red hat was Manila's Archbishop-emeritus Gaudencio B. Rosales on March 24, 2006. (Melo M. Acuna/CBCPNews)