Catholic World News News Feature
Cardinal Sin, "People Power" force in Philippines, dead at 76 June 21, 2005
Cardinal Jaime Sin, the retired Archbishop of Manila who was a principal figure in the "People Power" movement that forced President Ferdinand Marcos out of power in 1986, has died at the age of 76.
Cardinal Sin, whose severe kidney ailment prevented him from attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II or the conclave that chose Pope Benedict XVI, died early in the morning of June 21 at a hospital in Manila.
Born on August 31, 1928, Jaime Sin was the 14th of 16 children in an ethnic Chinese family. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the Jaro diocese in 1967. He became Archbishop of Jaro in 1972, and of Manila in 1974. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI in 1976. He retired as head of the Manila archdiocese in September 2003; that retirement was hastened by his battle with diabetes and associated kidney problems.
Cardinal Sin was one of the few Catholic prelates who has been allowed to visit China. During the 1980s he established the Lorenzo Ruiz Institute in Manila to train priests for service to the Church in China, in anticipation of the time when the Communist government there will allow their entry. For now, most of the priests trained at that Institute serve in ethnic-Chinese parishes in the Philippines.
In 1986, as opposition to the Marcos dictatorship reached critical proportions, Cardinal Sin became a focal point of that opposition, and in a climactic confrontation in February, he drew together 1 million people to form a human barricade, blocking the progress of tanks that had been sent into the capital to quash a military mutiny. The "People Power" revolt brought Corazon Aquino to power. Fifteen years later, in 2001, Cardinal Sin was again instrumental in the fall of President Joseph Estrada, who was driven from office because of political corruption.
The news of Cardinal Sin's death, although it had long been anticipated, cast a pall over the Philippines, where Catholicism is a dominant influence. Hundreds of people-- including former President Aquino-- have paid their last respects to the beloved prelate at the Manila cathedral, where his remains are lying in state. Pope Benedict XVI saluted the deceased cardinal for his "unfailing commitment to the spread of the Gospel and to the promotion of the dignity, common good, and national unity of the Philippine people."
With the death of Cardinal Sin, there are now 181 members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 115 are below the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave. Barring another death, the next prelates to drop from that list will be Cardinal Marco Cé, the former Patriarch of Venice, who will turn 80 on July 8; and Cardinal Francisco Alvarez Martinez, the former Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, whose 80th birthday is July 14.