Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Card Stephen Fumio Hamao of Japan passed away last night in Tokyo. The President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants died from cancer at the age of 77.
Pope Benedict XVI remembered his “devoted witness” to the Gospel in the messages of condolences he sent to Rafael Masahiro Umemura, bishop of Yokohama, and Ms Teresa Teruko Uematsu, the prelate’s sister.
In the telegrams the Holy Father referred to Cardinal Hamao’s “lively concern for the poor and his generous service to the universal Church.”
Born in Tokyo, Cardinal Hamao graduated in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was ordained as a priest at the age of 27 and eventually appointed auxiliary bishop of Tokyo and then Bishop of Yokohama.
He was particularly involved with young people, migrants, refugees and the poor, especially as chairman of Caritas Asia and Oceania.
In 1995 he became the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of Japan. Three years later Pope John Paul II named him president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.
His funeral will be celebrated this coming Monday, November 12, in Yokohama.
With Cardinal Hamao’s passing and the 23 new cardinals who will receive their biretta on November 24, the total number of cardinal ‘electors’ will be 120 once again, as established by Paul VI.