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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June 2005, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Obituary: Cardinal Jaime Sin
Cardinal Jaime Sin, who has died at the age of 76, was hugely revered.

Cardinal Jaime Sin
Cardinal Sin saw an integral role for religion in politics
He led peaceful revolts which led to the toppling of two former presidents, Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada.

Cardinal Sin, who suffered from kidney problems and diabetes, retired in November 2004 but he remained arguably the most influential Christian leader in South East Asia.

Former President Fidel Ramos (who clashed with the cardinal over the latter's opposition to birth control), once called him the "divine commander-in-chief".

Sin, whose Chinese father emigrated to the Philippines, was the 14th of 16 children, and one of nine who survived beyond infancy.

He was ordained in 1954 and, displaying exceptional skills in administration and fund-raising, progressed through the clerical ranks until he became an archbishop in 1974, barely two years after President Ferdinand Marcos had declared martial law and imposed one-man rule.

Two years later, he became a cardinal, the youngest in the College of Cardinals.

At first, he adopted what he called a policy of "critical collaboration" with the regime of Philippines dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, calling on the government to be more democratic while demanding restraint from the opposition.

Man of humour

He met Marcos once a month, regularly attended social events with Marcos and his wife, Imelda, and, when requested, would say Mass at the presidential palace. To criticism of such contacts, Cardinal Sin would say: "If I don't attend to their spiritual needs, who will?"

Former Filipino President, Ferdinand Marcos
Sin helped overthrow President Marcos

And his wry sense of humour was often in evidence. He once related that when President Marcos expressed his admiration of the United States' ability to produce a speedy election result, he told Marcos that he should admire the Filipino people - they knew the election results before the election.

But in the 1980s, he became increasingly critical of the regime and in 1986, played an influential role in a "people power" uprising that led to the removal of Marcos.

The crisis came to a head in a dispute over the result of a presidential election between Marcos and his opponent, Corazon Aquino, who had taken the place of her assassinated husband, Benigno.

When two leading members of the Marcos government switched their support to Mrs Aquino and were then, with scores of other rebels, threatened with annihilation by Marcos's army, hundreds of thousands of people, including many nuns and priests, responded to an appeal by Cardinal Sin to form a protective human barrier.

Soon, President Marcos fled the country.

He earned wide respect among Catholics and non-Catholics alike because of his countless social contributions to the nation
Carlo, Manila, Philippines

In January, 2001, Sin again called on people to gather in peaceful rallies that led to the ousting of President Joseph Estrada, who faced an impeachment trial for alleged corruption.

Although Cardinal Sin supported civil liberties, he maintained a deeply-conservative stance against contraception, abortion and divorce.

He was always willing to share the humour caused by the incongruity of his name for a man of the cloth. "Welcome to the House of Sin," he told visitors.

Timeline: The Philippines
19 Apr 05 |  Country profiles
Philippines' Cardinal Sin retires
15 Sep 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
10 Mar 03 |  Country profiles

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