Philippines mourns dead cardinal

Filipinos have been paying their last respects to Cardinal Jaime Sin, the influential former head of the country's Roman Catholic Church. 

Hundreds of mourners have begun arriving at the cathedral in the capital, Manila, where his coffin has been brought for public viewing. 

Cardinal Sin died on Tuesday aged 76, after a history of illness including kidney and heart problems. 

He played a key role in the country's transition to democracy. 

He retired in 2003 after nearly 30 years heading the Manila Archdiocese. 

That period saw him playing key roles in the toppling of both Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001. 

'Blessed man' 

Cardinal Sin's successor as archbishop, Gaudencio Rosales, presided over a wake at Manila cathedral and led a packed congregation in prayer.

The BBC's Sarah Toms says the powerful and the poor alike have been filing past the open casket containing his body, while a large portrait hangs overhead. 

Former President Corazon Aquino, who enjoyed the cardinal's support during the popular uprising that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos and brought her to power, attended the mass. 

"He was a good shepherd and I shall always remember him with utter gratitude and I hope we can be a little bit like him, serving God, serving our country, serving our people," she said. 

Current President Gloria Arroyo, who also benefited from his backing when she came to power, 15 years later, paid tribute to the former Church leader. 

She described him as "a blessed man who never failed to unite Filipinos during the most crucial battles against tyranny and evil". 

"Cardinal Sin leaves a legacy of freedom and justice forged in deep personal courage," she said. 

She was guided many times by his wisdom and profound love for the poor and oppressed, she added.

Born 31 August 1928, the 14th of 16 children, to a Chinese father
Ordained in 1954, he became a cardinal at the age of 47
Democrat politically, conservative religiously

Pope's death

Cardinal Sin was taken to hospital with a high fever on Sunday evening, suffered multiple organ failure and died on Tuesday morning. 

His spokesman, Father Jun Sescon, called on people in Asia's largest Catholic country to "include in their prayers the soul of Cardinal Sin". 

He said the death of Pope John Paul II in April may have contributed to a deterioration in the cardinal's health. 

"He truly was affected by the loss of our beloved Holy Father," he said, according to AFP news agency. 

Cardinal Sin espoused a conservative vision of Catholicism, and after the election of John Paul's successor he described Benedict XVI as a "bright and good man, and a good friend". 

Church officials say the cardinal's funeral has been tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday.

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21/06/2005

Bron : BBC News

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