Br Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, OFM, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Maputo (Mozambique) has died.

Br. Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, OFM, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Maputo (Mozambique) died yesterday. He led the archdiocese of Maputo from 1974 to 2003. Among his records he was the first priest, bishop and cardinal in his country.

The cardinal was born in Zavala, in the diocese of Inhambane, on 18 March 1924.

He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 1947 and was sent to the novitiate of the Portuguese Franciscan Province near Lisbon. After solemn profession in 1951, he received priestly ordination on 25 June 1953. He returned to Mozambique in 1954 and worked in the region of Inhambane. In 1972 he became councilor of the Franciscan Custody of Mozambique and Rector of the new Minor Seminary of Mozambique. In 1974 he was elected Archbishop of Maputo by Pope Paul VI, an appointment that came after Mozambique’s independence from Portugal. In the forefront of the search for peace in the country afflicted by civil war, he became the first President of the local Caritas.

In 1981 he founded the Pious Women’s Union under the name Franciscanas de Nossa Senhora de Mãe de Africa. On 28 June 1988, John Paul II created him cardinal and gave him the presbyteral title of San Frumenzio ai Prati Fiscali. In September 1988, newly created cardinal, he welcomed John Paul the II to Mozambique. In 2003 he became archbishop emeritus of Maputo. In 1994 and 2009 he had taken part in the two special assemblies for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, bringing as a contribution his passionate experience of service. On 5 September 2019, during the Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis, Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos was able to greet him at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Maputo, during the Meeting with Bishops, priests and religious. The funeral will be held on 7 October at 9 am in Maputo Cathedral.

A tireless servant of the Gospel and of the Church’. This is how Pope Francis remembers Mozambican Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, who died last Wednesday, 29 September, in his native Maputo, which he led as a pastor for thirty years. The elderly cardinal, created by John Paul II, was an important figure for the Church in Mozambique and a point of reference in the country’s reconciliation process at the end of the conflict in 1992.

In a telegram to the current archbishop of Maputo, Francisco Chimoio, OfmCap, the Pope expressed his grief at the cardinal’s death and expressed solidarity with the bereaved family and all those “who benefited from the service of this pastor” whom the Lord “guided throughout his life”.