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Health of Malaysia's first cardinal deteriorates

Cardinal Fernandez was given a red hat at the age of 86, largely seen as an honor for his outstanding service

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: October 02, 2020 07:40 AM GMT
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Health of Malaysia's first cardinal deteriorates

Malaysia's Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez (Photo: Wikipedia)

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The health of Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez, Malaysia's first Catholic cardinal, has worsened as he is losing the fight against tongue cancer, reports say.

The 90-year old cardinal has become frail and is weak in health, said local media reports, quoting his aides.

According to aides, Cardinal Fernandez can recognize people who visit him and acknowledges messages by well-wishers, which are read out to him.

However, an Aug. 26 note on Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese's website said he was "frail and stable."

Cardinal Fernandez, a former archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, was diagnosed with tongue cancer in November last year. After intense medication, he is now receiving palliative care at the Little Sisters of the Poor home in Cheras.

Pope Francis made him a cardinal in 2016 when he was 86. The appointment was seen as an honor for his long service to the Church. Cardinals aged above 80 have no voting rights in a papal enclave to elect a pope.

He was ordained a priest in 1966 and was made a prelate 12 years later. He retired as archbishop of Kuala Lumpur in 2013 after 20 years of service.

During his tenure as archbishop, Cardinal Fernandez unveiled a roadmap for the Peninsular Malaysia Church by identifying its needs.

In a personal letter to the cardinal on his 25th episcopal ordination in February 2003, St. Pope John Paul II wrote: "Your ardent commitment to duty not only benefited the flock entrusted to you but was manifestly clear to all in Asia … your role with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei shines forth as well in your strenuous efforts to give direction and purpose to the Church in West Malaysia."

Cardinal Fernandez is the first Malaysian cardinal in the Catholic Church.

"I am not looking for success. We only sow the seeds. We do God's will and try to be faithful to him. We must also be in the world and respond to the needs of the people. We need to listen to the people," he said in an interview in 2003.

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