June 23, 2005, 9:55 a.m.

Cardinal Sin

Two days ago (6/21/05), the long-reigning archbishop of Manila (about a generation), and Primate of the Philippines, Jaime Cardinal Sin died of renal failure. He's a giant in recent Philippine history and well known in the church universal. For many people, a sign of contradiction.

Critics said that we should not mix politics and religion, church and state. But the Cardinal proved them wrong. Each individual has only one life. You're the same person on Sunday or weekday, in government or out of it, in politics or out of it, etc. No matter where we are, or in what situation we are in, we are one personality. Double personalities are considered freaks, characters in novels and movies. If followed strictly, then politicians will not be corrupt; people do the best they can in their occupation; or people are charitable not only on Christmas, but 24/7.

In 1983, when Senator Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, Cardinal Sin became the voice of the voiceless. People were afraid to speak out, fearing for their lives. But not Sin; in every opportunity he attacked the political leaders at the time, namely President Marcos and close government officials. What I don't see today is the respect he maintained towards Marcos. He respected his opponents. People today who attack the government disrespect the person of the president. To Marcos' credit, the Cardinal was not hurt amid this crisis.

In 1986, Cardinal Sin was very instrumental in what we call the first People Power revolution, which remained generally peaceful, and ousted the Marcoses, fleeing to the U.S. The outcome would have become bloody if not for him. Ultimately it was God's will that democracy was restored. This People Power phenomenon became a template for other countries to follow, especially in eastern Europe as is seen particularly in Poland. This link is sadly missing in the accounts of modern historians.

In between such momentous events, which again become controversial in this secular world, the Cardinal is spearheading the pro-life philosophy of the Church. He (as any Catholic should be) is staunchly against abortion and contraception, and such other technologies that experiment on the very early stages of human life. Life as echoed by Pope John Paul II starts from conception, and ends in natural death.

All are enjoined to fervently pray for the repose of his soul.

Ave atque vale!