By MAURICIO SAVARESE
SAO PAULO (AP) — Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the Brazilian Catholic cardinal who inspired Pope Francis to pick his name after the 2013 conclave, died on Monday at the age of 87. He was one of the country’s main religious leaders and a strong advocate for the poor.
Sao Paulo archbishop, Cardinal Odilo Scherer, said in a statement that Hummes died “after a long illness, which he endured with patience and faith in God.” Hummes had been archbishop of Sao Paulo and, before that, of the city of Fortaleza.
Hummes also worked between 2006 and 2011 as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican office which oversees the education, training and other matters for Catholic priests.
Hummes was sitting near Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the latest conclave, and, according to the pope himself, the Brazilian whispered in his ear “Don’t forget the poor” as soon as Bergoglio was elected. Francis decided to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, who was particularly devoted to caring for the poor.
Recently, Francis named the first-ever Amazonian cardinal, given the importance the region has had on his pontificate and the attention he has wanted to draw to it.
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