Cuba's first and only cardinal

Cuba's first and only cardinal

Pope Francis and the Latin America Relief Fund Adveniat have expressed their condolences for the death of Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino. He had "made history as a political mediator".

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the death of Havana's Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino. Ortega had succumbed to cancer on Friday at the age of 82. In a telegram of condolences (Saturday) to his successor, Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez, Pope Francis ared his prayers for the deceased.

The Essen-based Latin America relief organization Adveniat said Ortega had "made history as a political mediator" and at the same time had "been very close to the people as a pastor.".

Ortega presided over the local church in Havana for almost 35 years. As archbishop of the capital (since 1981), he was an important figure in the political reform process and equally a contact for the government of Cuba as for opposition circles. It was only in April 2016 that Pope Francis accepted the then 79-year-old's age-related resignation from office.

First and only Cuban cardinal

Ortega, ordained a priest in 1964 and imprisoned for eight months in 1966 in a labor camp for religious and homosexual young men, was named bishop of Pinar del Rio in late 1978 by Pope John Paul II. appointed bishop of Pinar del Rio. The move to Havana followed in November 1981. Former youth pastor also committed to youth work as archbishop.

In 1994, John Paul II. Ortega to College of Cardinals – the first and so far only cardinal appointment of a Cuban since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. In 2005 and 2013, Ortega participated as a voter in the conclave to elect a pope. After the last conclave, Ortega published the speech that then-Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had given to the cardinals in Rome, which made him the favorite to become pope.

With Ortega's death, the College of Cardinals still has 217 members. Of those, 120 would currently still be under 80 years old and thus eligible to vote in a papal election.

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