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Cardinal Aponte Dies at 89

Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez, the second Puerto Rican to be ordained a bishop and the only Puerto Rican cardinal, died April 10 at Hospital Espanol Auxilio Mutuo in San Juan after a long illness. He was 89. The head of the San Juan Archdiocese for nearly 30 years, he retired in 1999. Cardinal Aponte participated in the two 1978 conclaves that elected Pope John Paul I and Blessed John Paul II, but he was already over 80 and ineligible to vote by the time Pope Benedict XVI was chosen. Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno declared five days of official mourning for the cardinal, who died on the 62nd anniversary of his priestly ordination. “His wide priestly and pastoral work leaves a rich spiritual legacy, not only for the Catholic faithful, but also for all men of good will,” the governor said in a statement. “The cardinal captivated all who knew him; he reached, by his loyalty to God and his church, the highest place in the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico.” Cardinal Aponte’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 210 members, 123 of whom are under the age of 80.

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