Malaysia’s first cardinal dies at 88

Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez, pictured in St. Peter’s Basilica Nov. 19, 2016. DANIEL IBÁÑEZ/CNA

Malaysia’s first Catholic cardinal, Anthony Soter Fernandez, died on Wednesday, October 28. He was 88 years old.

The retired prelate was earlier diagnosed with cancer and had undergone several medical procedures since November.

He died in his sleep at St Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly in the town of Cheras.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to … all the bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, to his family and friends,” read a statement from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

Born on April 22, 1932, in Sungai Patani in the Diocese of Penang, Cardinal Fernandez was ordained into the priesthood in 1966.

He was appointed as bishop of Penang by St. Pope John Paul II in 1977 and Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur in 1983, and made cardinal by Pope Francis in November 2016.

He was a priest for 53 years, a bishop for 42, and a cardinal for three years.

Cardinal Fernandez served as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei from 1987 to 1990 and then again from 2000 to 2003.

From 1981 to 1982, he was a member of the Office of Education and Student Chaplaincy of the FABC before it was renamed to the Office of Education and Faith Formation in 2008.

For five years, from 1984 to 1989, Cardinal Fernandez was with the Office of Human Development of the federation. - RVA News