Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, General Rapporteur for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, speaks during a press conference announcing a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region at the Vatican, Oct. 3, 2019. Hummes died on Monday, June 4, 2022 at age 88. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, General Rapporteur for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, speaks during a press conference announcing a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region at the Vatican, Oct. 3, 2019. Hummes died on Monday, June 4, 2022 at age 88. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)

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 for Pope Benedict XVI 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. He left the job because of age limits.

Pope John Paul II made him Sao Paulo's archbishop in 1998 and three years later the Brazilian became a cardinal.

Hummes was sitting near Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the latest conclave, and, according to the pope himself, the Brazilian encouraged him as the vote neared the end.

"A great friend, a great friend," Francis said about Hummes in his first press conference after being elected. "When things started getting a little dangerous, he cheered me on. And when the vote came to two thirds, the usual applause began, as the pope had been elected. He hugged me, kissed me and said: 'Do not forget about the poor.' Those words were carved on my mind."

Francis decided to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, who was particularly devoted to caring for the poor.

Leftist former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads polls to return to the office after October's elections, was a friend of the man Brazilians call "Dom Claudio." Hummes was considered a moderate in the Catholic church, though.

"His unconditional love for others always put him on the side of the poor, even in the most adverse situations," da Silva said on Twitter.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, whose far-right administration was often criticized by Hummes, has not made any comments about the cardinal's death.

Hummes was also devoted to causes of the Amazon and of Indigenous peoples, who have had troubled relationships with religious leaders of other communities. The cardinal was one of the main inspirations for the Synod of the Pan-Amazonian Region in October 2019, which focused on environmental debates.

"Indigenous peoples have shown in many ways they want our church to defend and protect their rights, build their future," Hummes said during the synod, adding the Indigenous of the Amazon deserve have "the leading roles" in their future, far from "the action of anyone's colonialism."

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.

Francis named Hummes in 2020 to lead the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon region, which is fostered by the debates of the synod. The Brazilian cardinal said in a letter in July 2021 that he feared the decisions of the debate might be hollow.

"It is good to continue debating what we should do, but even with that being a good thing it is not enough," Hummes wrote.

Hummes was born in the tiny city of Montenegro, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, bordering Uruguay and Argentina. Sao Paulo's archdioceses said Hummes' funeral will take place at its central church in Sao Paulo.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

A screenshot of the Pope's Twitter account
The Vatican on Monday urged the Catholic faithful, and especially bishops, to be “reflective, not reactive” on social media, issuing guidelines to try to tame the toxicity on Catholic Twitter.
Pope Francis on the left shakes hands with Martin Scorsese in the center and Helen Morris Scorsese on the right in a daylight hall at the Vatican.
Catholic artists, poets, writers and filmmakers serve the church not by trying to “domesticate” Christ but by helping people challenge and expand their knowledge of the Lord, Pope Francis said.
Timelapse photo of people crossing a busy street
A Reflection for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Molly Cahill
Molly CahillMay 29, 2023
Pope Francis delivers his homily during his Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 28, 2023.
In his homily for Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica May 28, the pope said that the Holy Spirit is "the heart of synodality and the driving force of evangelization."