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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Malaysia’s first and only cardinal, Anthony Soter Fernandez, was laid to rest today in a funeral mass that was attended by only 20 people.
The small group was in compliance with the current conditional movement control order (CMCO) regulations, said a statement from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.
However, a livestream of the mass that was presided over by Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Julian Leow Beng Kim was joined by thousands of viewers across the globe.
“True to his simplicity and humble nature, Cardinal chose this time of the CMCO to leave us.
“He shies away from publicity but never responsibility. We will all miss him dearly,” Leow said.
Fernandez, who was appointed cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, was buried in a crypt at the Cathedral of St John here.
He was laid to rest next to the first Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon.
Also present at the mass was The Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Datuk Sebastian Francis and the Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.
Fernandez died on Wednesday at the Little Sisters of the Poor St Francis Xavier Home in Cheras after battling tongue cancer at the age of 88.
Born in Sungai Petani, Kedah, Fernandez was ordained a priest in 1966, serving as the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei from 1987 to 1990, and for a second tenure from 2000 to 2003.
He served as the former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Penang, from 1978 until 1983.
Subsequently, Fernandez was appointed archbishop in 1983 by then-Pope John Paul II, succeeding Vendargon as the most senior Roman Catholic figure in Peninsular Malaysia.