Brazilian cardinal who attended Vatican II, helped poor, dies at 91
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
(CNS photo/Alessia Guiliani, Catholic Press Photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, the retired archbishop of Rio de Janeiro who defended the rights of the poor and attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, died July 9.
Cardinal Sales, 91, had been in poor health and died of a heart attack.
In a condolence message to the archdiocese July 10, Pope Benedict XVI said the cardinal had "a long life dedicated to the church in Brazil" and was distinguished for "showing all the path of truth in charity and service."
Serving as archbishop of Rio de Janeiro for 30 years, the late cardinal had been outspoken against human rights violations during the decades of military rule in Brazil. After a civilian government came to power in 1984, he criticized the country's new constitution for not doing enough for agrarian reform and for defining abortion too vaguely.
He also criticized government corruption in the 1990s, saying it was impossible to build a real nation without confidence in government leaders, and condemned the systematic murder of street children carried out by self-appointed death squads.
He supported the Vatican's efforts to sanction Brazilian theologians and close seminaries that had strayed from Catholic principles in their focus on liberation theology.
He also lamented the tawdry and licentious nature of the city's world-famous pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations, calling them "disgraceful exhibitionism."
Born in Acari, Brazil, Nov. 8, 1920, he was ordained to the priesthood Nov. 21, 1943. He was made a bishop in 1954, serving first as auxiliary of Natal and later as its apostolic administrator, from 1962 to 1964.
He was named apostolic administrator of Sao Salvador da Bahia in 1964 and was appointed as its archbishop in 1968. He was transferred to Rio de Janiero in 1971.
He was also the retired bishop for Eastern Catholics in Brazil without ordinaries of their own rites.
Many initiatives he founded then spread to other areas of Brazil: social assistance service for rural workers, educational centers and radio broadcasts for elementary and middle-school instruction.
He also led the Latin American bishops' council department for social action.
He was a participant in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council; he was a member of the commission for the lay apostolate and the mixed commission that drafted the general outline of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et Spes."
Created cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1969, the Brazilian prelate had been the longest-serving cardinal in the church before he died. As of early July, there were just three prelates still alive who had been created a cardinal by Pope Paul: Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, 90, of Sao Paulo; U.S. Cardinal William W. Baum, 85; and Pope Benedict XVI, 85.
Cardinal Sales' death leaves the College of Cardinals with 208 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.