ROME — Brazilian Cardinal Jose Freire Falcão, who led the Archdiocese of Brasilia for 20 years, died at the age of 95, nearly a week after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
According to the Archdiocese of Brasilia, Falcão was hospitalized Sept. 17, as “a preventive measure after testing positive for COVID-19.”
“In the early morning hours of Sept. 24, Cardinal Falcão’s condition worsened after suffering kidney and respiratory complications, which required intubation to provide greater comfort,” the archdiocese said.
The Brazilian passed away Sept. 26 and was the second cardinal to die in less than a week due to the coronavirus. Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino died Sept. 23 after a monthlong battle with COVID-19.
In a telegram to Archbishop Paulo Cezar Costa of Brasilia, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and remembered the cardinal as a “shepherd who was passionate about evangelization.”
“He was solicitous in placing the gifts received from the Lord at the service of the people of God and his brother bishops, especially during the years he served as president of the bishops’ conference,” the pope said.
The pope also expressed his gratitude to God for Falcão’s ministry, which he fulfilled “with generosity, leading the people entrusted to him along the path of the Gospel.”
Falcão was born Oct. 23, 1925, in Erere, Brazil, and was ordained a priest in 1949. He was named coadjutor bishop of Limoeiro do Norte in April 1967 and became the diocese’s bishop that August.
He was promoted to archbishop of Teresina in November 1971, where he remained until he was appointed by St. John Paul II to lead the Archdiocese of Brasilia in 1984.
The Archdiocese of Brasilia said the funeral Mass for Falcão took place Sept. 27 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Aparecida, and he was buried in the cathedral crypt.
His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 217 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.