On Tuesday morning at Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in Greenhills, San Juan, Philippine Cardinal Jaime Sin finally succumbed to a longstanding kidney ailment and diabetes after suffering for many years. He was 76.
Being a Chinese-Filipino with 15 siblings, Cardinal Sin was widely known for his solid stance against everything from artificial contraceptives to politics; he was one of Asia’s most influential Roman Catholic leaders.
One of his renown achievements includes the success in overthrowing two Filipino presidents, Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada in 1986 and 2001 respectively, whom Filipinos alleged being guilty of widespread corruption and graft. He took nonviolent methods such as marching, praying the Rosary and singing English language translations of sacred hymns with large crowds of Filipinos on the streets. The campaign was later known as the People Power Movement or the EDSA Revolution.
At his retirement ceremony in 2003, the Philippine cardinal was quoted saying that his duty was to put Christ in politics. He firmly believes that politics without Christ is the “greatest scourge of our nation.”
When Pope John Paul II passed away, Cardinal Sin was one of three cardinals eligible to vote for the successor along with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany and William Wakefield Cardinal Baum of the United States. But due to his illness, he was unable to attend the Vatican conclave that chose a new pope in April – Pope Benedict XVI.
President Gloria Arroyo, who was elevated as president after Cardinal Sin supported the marches in streets to topple the then president Joseph Estrada, expressed deep sorrows concerning the Cardinal’s death, “History will mark this day with sadness when a great liberator of the Filipino people and a champion of God passed away.”
The president added, “Cardinal Sin leaves a legacy of freedom and justice forged in deep personal courage. Many times I was guided by his wisdom and profound love for the poor and the oppressed where he lived in the fountain of the people like no other in his time.”
The Cardinal’s brother, Dr. Ramon Sin, witnessed the Cardinal’s zeal and passion for the people even on his deathbed. “Well, he wanted to get up. He wanted to get up and go to the office,” Dr. Sin also testified that his brother was a generous giver, “he gave away finances and pieces of property to the poor.”