Cuban Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, the former Archbishop of Havana, died on Friday. He was 82.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis, asking Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez of Havana to convey the Holy Father’s condolences and paternal closeness to the relatives, clergy and faithful of the archdiocese who are mourning the late cardinal.
While promising his prayers for the eternal rest of the soul of Card. Ortega, who “served the Church and his brothers in the various offices entrusted to him by Providence”, the Pope imparted his apostolic blessing to all, as a sign of Christian hope in the Risen Lord.
Born in Jaguey Grande, on 18, October 1936, Card. Ortega was ordained a priest on 2 August 1964, for the Diocese of Matanzas.
He was appointed Bishop of Pinar del Rio on 4 December 1978, and 3 years later, on 20 November 1981, was appointed Archbishop of Cuba. St. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1994. After heading the archdiocese for nearly 35 years, he retired on 26 April 2016.
A son of sugar worker, the late cardinal is credited with negotiating for the first papal visit to Cuba of St. Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict later visited Cuba in 2012 and Pope Francis in 2015 and again made a stopover there the following year.
Cardinal Ortega is also credited with leading efforts in helping improve church-state relations in the communist country and mediating improved U.S.-Cuba ties.