Brazilian Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns died on Wednesday morning, aged 95, after a long struggle with lung and kidney problems. The Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paulo was the last living Cardinal to be appointed by Pope Paul VI in 1973. Cardinal Arns served as Archbishop of Sao Paulo from 1970 to 1998. A pastor at heart, never far from his flock, Cardinal Arns was much beloved by the faithful.
He was also known for having challenged leaders of the brutal Brazilian military dictatorship of 1964-1985 and for his fight against torture in Latin America.
A commission created by Cardinal Arns at his Archdiocese documented many cases of torture and helped later governments pay damages to victims and shame perpetrators of violence.
"Let us praise God for the Franciscan life of Dom Paulo and for his courageous engagement in the defense of human dignity and inalienable rights of each person," Sao Paulo Archbishop Odilo Scherer said in a statement.
Cardinal Arns will be buried in Sao Paulo's Central Cathedral.
Pope Francis has sent the following condolence message:
"I receive with great sadness the news of the death of our venerated brother, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. I express also to the auxiliary bishops, the clergy, the religious communities and the faithful of the archdiocese of São Paulo, as well as to the family of the deceased, my condolences for the passing of this intrepid pastor who in his ecclesial ministry revealed himself to be an authentic witness of the Gospel amid his people, showing to all the path of truth in charity and in service to the community, in constant attention to the most disadvantaged.
"I thank the Lord for having given the Church such a generous pastor, and raise fervent prayers that God may grant eternal joy to this good and faithful servant of His. I convey to the archdiocesan community that mourns the loss of its beloved pastor, to the Church of Brazil, which found in him a sure point of reference, and those who share in this hour of sadness that announces the resurrection, the comfort of my Apostolic Blessing."