Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) Â– Today, 28 June, at 9am local time, the funeral of Cardinal Jaime Sin, head of the Filipino Church, was held in Manila. Cardinal Sin died aged 76 on 21 June from the grave illness which had prevented him for attending the funeral of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI.
Important church figures turned up to pay him homage, among them Taiwanese cardinal Shan Kuo-his. The funeral ended a week of prayers, many uttered before the casket with Cardinal Sin's mortal remains, displayed in the Cathedral. The faithful remember him both as a shepherd as well as a "patriot": Sin led pacific protests in 1986 which brought down the Marcos regime (the "rosary revolution") and those in 2001 which ended Estrada's government. In fact, the casket was draped by the national flag.
Cardinal Darmaatmadja of Jakarta (Indonesia) and Cardinal Mahoney archbishop of Los Angeles (USA) participated in the funeral. President Arroyo also attended the ceremony. Archbishop Rosales presided over the Mass after the rites of State: "He was more than a shepherd, and in the years of dictatorship he was a fearless prophet of despots, unjust and dishonest oppressors." The sermon was preached by Mgr Villegas, a long-time collaborator of Cardinal Sin, who described him as "the voice of God".
The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Mgr Franco, read a message from Benedict XVI. "I offer my condolences to you and to the clergy," wrote the pope, "recalling with gratitude the tenacious faith of Cardinal Sin for the words of the Gospel and the promotion of dignity, the common good and the national unity of the Filipino people."
According to the head of police, Vidal Querol, 700 policemen were mobilised for around 20,000 mourners present at the ceremony. Students of many Catholic schools watched the funeral on television. The commitment of Cardinal Sin also embraced projects to give a home to the poor and other activities of the diocesan Caritas and other associations. He motivated the birth of new religious vocations and the involvement of the laity in evangelization missions. "It will be the greatest funeral of our archdiocese and we predict a great crowd," said Fr Rufino Sescon, Cardinal Sin's private secretary.
On the microphones of the radio of the Filipino Church, ZNN Radio Veritas, Cardinal Shan recalled the friend with whom he had collaborated in the Office of Social Communications of the Asian Bishops' Conference.
The body of Cardinal Sin was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral, as with previous archbishops.