PIME superior in Manila: "Cardinal Sin: a man full of joy and resolve"

Manila (AsiaNews) – The funeral of Cardinal Jaime Sin, "divine commander-in-chief" of the Philippines, will be held on Tuesday 28 June at 9am (local time) in the cathedral of Manila. President Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal has declared a week of national mourning and ordered that national flags be flown at half-mast. The casket holding the remains of Cardinal Sin is on display in the cathedral for the whole week, as decided by the master of ceremonies, Mgr Socrates B.Villegas – auxiliary bishop of Manila – who for years was the cardinal's personal secretary.

Fr Giovanni Battista Sandolo, PIME regional superior of the Philippines, told AsiaNews: "It is impressive, enormous queues of people are already standing before the casket to pray. I'm sure the entire nation will participate in the funeral mass in some way or other. Our diocese – Paranaque City – will be represented on 28 May in the cathedral but I have also organised a mass in special suffrage to be held tomorrow, Thursday 23, at midday."

"The Eucharist will be celebrated as a mark of gratitude for the cardinal's work, but also as a sign of personal appreciation. Twenty years ago, the cardinal really took this parish into his heart and he helped us very much," continued Fr Sandolo. Previously Paranaque diocese formed part of Manila archdiocese: "I remember that it was he who proposed the name 'Mary Queen of Apostles' for our parish." Dwelling on his personal memories of the cardinal, Fr Sandolo said: "I knew him to be an extremely joyful man, ironic when he met priests, and very affable. However we should not be fooled, because he was also very decisive, gifted with a very strong personality."

Cardinal Sin always showed respect and friendship towards the PIME. In April 1986, the cardinal recalled the death – immediately defined by him as "martyrdom" – of Fr Tullio Favali, PIME missionary in the country who had been killed a year earlier. On that occasion, he said: "The assassination of this unforgettable Italian priest has caused us to confront ourselves. His martyrdom has taught us to live as true Filipinos and as true Christians, it has opened our eyes, it has caused hope to explode."

The cardinal's death has distracted the attention of the Filipino people away from scandals linked to corruption and bad government. According to Fr Sandolo, the cardinal's legacy at political level "should make people understand how they should react in politics, even if they reach a point where they need to take tough decisions."

In this respect, the national assembly of bishops of the Philippines will start next week, and it should tackle themes like the current political situation in the country and the state of corruption. Above all, the meeting is set to plan what kind of proposals the Church should present to the country.

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