Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima celebrated the funeral Mass on June 22 for retired Archbishop Alcides Mendoza of Cusco, noting the late archbishop’s dedication to bringing love to the poor.
“His love for them was great and was the reason for his mission of evangelization,” Cardinal Cipriani said.
He recalled his time working with Archbishop Mendoza in Huancavelica, Apurimac and Cusco, where he witnessed his pastoral devotion to “bringing love to many of the poor and needy, who found in him a call to affection.”
The cardinal noted that at a time when love for the poor had become politicized in many places, Archbishop Alcides “had the maturity and courage to defend our Catholic identity amidst great difficulties in his beloved land of Cusco. There he defended the institution of the Church with firmness and loyalty.”
In this sense, he continued, the archbishop’s fidelity to the Church was united to his love for the Pope and for priests, as well as to his great devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Cardinal Cipriani encouraged the faithful to pray for the soul of Archbishop Alcides and that he intercede before God to help the entire Church.
“The Lord took him in peace and simplicity. Today we ask him to help the bishops to remain united, faithful, apostolic and close to the people,” the cardinal said.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the remains of Archbishop Mendoza were transported to Cusco, where he wished to be buried.
Archbishop Mendoza was born in 1928 in La Mejorada, a small village in the Andes of Peru. At seven years of age he began learning the faith from the Redemptorist Missionaries and soon discovered his vocation to the priesthood.
He entered the Minor Seminary of Ayacucho at the age of 12 and was ordained a priest in 1951 at the age of 23. Pope Pius XII appointed him bishop of Abancay, Peru in 1958 at the age of 30, making him the youngest bishop in the world. From 1962 to 1965 he attended the Second Vatican Council.
In 1967 Pope Paul VI appointed him Vicar of the Military Diocese of Peru, a post he held until 1983, when Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Cusco. He served there for the next 20 years until he reached the age of retirement
In 2008 he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a bishop and was given a special award by Peruvian President Alan Garcia for his service to the country.