MOZAMBIQUE: Alexandre José Maria Cardinal dos Santos, Mozambique’s First Indigenous Prelate Dies at 97

By Arnold Neliba

MAPUTO, OCTOBER 1, 2021 (CISA)-Alexandre José Maria Cardinal dos Santos, O.F.M. Archbishop Emeritus of Maputo died on Wednesday, September 29, at the age of 97.

Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, who led the Archdiocese of Maputo for nearly 30 years, was an instrumental church leader in promoting peace and reconciliation during and after the country’s long civil war and in addressing the new nation’s many challenges after it achieved independence from Portugal in 1975.

The Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), announced the death and acknowledged his contribution among others, in founding the regional episcopal conference.

“He was present at the inaugural meeting which took place in Pretoria, South Africa on the 24th April 1975. We can thus always see in him a picture of a man dedicated to communion and collegiality, shunning all forms of unhealthy expressions of nationalism,” IMBISA said in a statement.

“The IMBISA Secretariat offers prayers to God that Cardinal Alexandre, who dedicated all his life to the edification of God’s Holy Church, may be admitted to God’s eternal Kingdom which he always longed for. We also pray for all who mourn his death that they may receive Divine Consolation,” it adds.

Born on March 18, 1924. Alexandre José Maria Cardinal dos Santos joined the novitiate of the Portuguese Province of the Franciscans in 1947. He made his solemn profession in 1951 and was ordained a priest on June 25, 1953.

The late Cardinal dos Santos was appointed archbishop on December 23, 1974, and installed Archbishop of Lourenço Marques, later renamed to Maputo on March 9, 1975. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the College of Cardinals on June 28, 1988. He retired as Archbishop of Maputo on February 22, 2003.

Cardinal dos Santos was the first indigenous Priest, first Bishop and also first Cardinal of Mozambique.