Who is ex-CBCP president Oscar Cruz?
MANILA, Philippines — On Wednesday morning, the Catholic Church in the country lost a renowned and vocal leader due to the coronavirus disease 2019.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz died at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City due to “multi organ failure caused by critical COVID-19 infection,” according to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. He was 85.
Cruz was president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 1995 to 1999. He was also the Archbishop Emeritus of Lingayen-Dapugan, where Villegas succeeded him as archbishop.
“He was a faithful shepherd. He was a courageous prophet. He was a brilliant canon lawyer. He was a patriot and pastor,” Villegas said over Facebook.
Cruz was also known for his crusade against illegal gambling, particularly “jueteng.” He believed that the illegal numbers game continues to exist because of bribes given by its operators to police and politicians in exchange of protection.
According to CBCP News, the news service of the collegial body of Catholic bishops in the country, Cruz was born in Balanga, Bataan in 1934 and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Manila in 1962.
He had worked with late Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin as auxiliary bishop in 1976 until he was named archbishop of San Fernando in 1978.
Cruz then served as archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan from 1991 until he retired in 2009.
According to the news site, the CBCP’s Office on Women was created, and the offices on media, legal and research were operationalized during the stint of Cruz as leader of the collegial body. He had also written 54 books.
Even as he retired at the age of 75, the prelate remained as judicial vicar of the CBCP National Appellate Tribunal of Appeals and director of the Legal Office.
However, Cruz suffered from pneumonia in recent years which forced him to leave his remaining posts at the CBCP.
The funeral Mass for Cruz will be held at 9 a.m. on Friday, August 28, at the Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan. He will be laid to rest at the Santuario de San Juan Evangelista.
According to Villegas, only the priests and bishops together with the archbishop’s family will be allowed to attend the funeral Mass in compliance with health protocols under the prevailing community quarantine.
Expressing his mourning over the death of Cruz, Villegas lamented that “the world is poorer by his (Cruz) passing away.”
“Heaven has a new jewel. My tears flow. My heart is grateful that in this lifetime I met a great churchman like Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz,” he also said.
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