Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Vidal dies at age 86

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Updated to change dateline include details on wake, statements from the Palace and senators.

Cebu City (CNN Philippines, October 18) — His Eminence, retired Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Cebu archdiocese's spokesman Monsignor Joseph Tan said the prelate died at 7:26 a.m. "due to infection leading to septic shock". Vidal had became seriously ill and was confined at the Perpetual Succour Hospital here on October 11, he added.

Vidal is remembered as one of the key religious figures that helped unseat the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. At the height of growing protest and calls for democracy, Vidal, as president of Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines in 1986 , defended the church's stance against Marcos. This was among instrumental moves that led to the February 1986 People Power revolution that deposed Marcos and drove him and his family into exile.

"In 1986, as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, he signed the pastoral letter that called that year's snap elections fraudulent. This gave the moral impetus to the first Edsa People Power Revolution," Senator Kiko Pangilinan recounted in a statement.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' president Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed Vidal's legacy will live on despite his passing.

"Cardinal Vidal cannot die. He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth. His wisdom and his humility, his love for priests and his devotion to the Virgin Mary must live on in us whom he has left behind," Archbishop Villegas said in a statement.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo praised Vidal for being a "true servant-leader rather than a 'prince.'"

"For me his legacy is his own outstanding character. Some of these are: Humility, low profile style; Simplicity and Approachability; Ability to listen even to opposing views; Prudence in political issues; Courage in presenting and defending the CBCP position leading to the 1986 People Power; Charity for those considered as 'enemies,'" he told the CBCP.

Vidal was the oldest of the Philippines' three cardinals and served as Cebu's archbishop for 29 years. 

He was born in Mogpog, Marinduque on February 6, 1931. Vidal was then ordained at St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Lucena City, Quezon, as a priest in March 1956, and later on as a bishop in November 1971. Then Pope John Paul II appointed Vidal head of the Cebu archdiocese in 1982. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in April 1985. He retired in 2011.

Gov't officials extend condolences

Several government officials have extended their condolences to the Catholic Church on Vidal's death.

Malacañang acknowledged Vidal and the best wishes he extended when President Duterte took office in July 2016.

"President Rodrigo Duterte and Cardinal Vidal had a friendly, cordial relationship. The good cardinal paid a courtesy call to Malacanan shortly after PRRD assumed office and assured the Chief Executive of his fervent prayers for him and his administration," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

Senators also expressed their condolences.

"Cardinal Vidal was a rock and a foundation of our family's spiritual life; and he and my father enjoyed a cordial friendship through the years," said Senator Nancy Binay in a statement, referring to her father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Senator Pangilinan lauded Vidal's involvement in political issues.

"Cardinal Vidal professed a calling that is not just within the walls of his congregation and the church, but in communities, especially among the poor and voiceless," Pangilinan said.

He complimented Vidal for his "incisive political judgment" and for playing a historic role in dealing with past presidents.

Monsignor Tan said the wake will be held at the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral. Details of funeral rites will be made available as soon as possible.

Huge crowds are expected to pay their last respects, and roads surrounding the cathedral are being blocked off to traffic, said church officials, adding that the cathedral will remain open 24 hours.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will celebrate a Holy Mass in memory of Cardinal Vidal at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Vidal was also a member of several congregations of the Roman Curia - specifically the Evangelization of Peoples, Catholic Education, and the Pontifical Council for Health Workers. The Roman Curia is an arm of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican.

Vidal was awarded the Outstanding Filipino Award in 1998 by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He was also conferred several doctorate degrees, Honoris Causa, by several Catholic education institutions including the University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University, and San Carlos University in Cebu.

Cebu-based stringer Dale Israel contributed to this report.