Grateful for “fruits of his labor”

Grateful for 'fruits of his labor'

Fernando Sebastian Cardinal Aguilar © Cristian Gennari (CBA)

Pope Francis paid tribute to the late Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar. The archbishop emeritus of Pamplona and Tudela succumbed to the effects of a stroke in Malaga on Thursday at the age of 89.

Francis was grateful to him "for the rich fruits of his ministry," according to a letter of condolence released Friday by the Vatican. The head of the church ared the relatives and all who knew the cardinal of his sympathy and prayers.

Honored with cardinal dignity

Explicitly mentioned in the letter, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, is Sebastian's work in the Spanish Episcopal Conference as well as in various dioceses. The pope also praised the cardinal's work as rector of the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

Sebastian was born on 14. December 1929 born in Calatayud, Spain. He was archbishop of Pamplona from 1993 to 2007; before that he had led the bishoprics of Leon and Granada. He belonged to the Claretian order, officially called "Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary". Pope Francis awarded the clergyman an honorary cardinalate in 2014.

Homosexuality called a "defect"

Shortly after announcing his cardinal elevation, Sebastian made international headlines when he called homosexuality a "defect" that could be cured through treatment. "Homosexuality is a defective kind of sexuality, since it has in its structure and goal procreation," he said in an interview at the time.

It is the duty of the Church to point out to homosexuals their "defect", he said. The College of Cardinals currently still has 223 members. Of those, 124 are under 80 and would be eligible to vote in a papal election.

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