Monday, August 03, 2009

For "Tita Cory," A Cardinal's Sendoff

Brought to the Filipino Presidency in the 1986 "People Power" revolution led by the titanic Cardinal Jaime Sin, the heavily Catholic island-nation is mourning Corazon Aquino following her death early Saturday at 76.

Closely affiliated with the church in life -- both politically and in her especially devout practice of the faith -- the devotion of the leader dubbed "Tita Cory" ("Aunt Cory") is being honored in a unique way before her state funeral on Wednesday: the former president's lying-in-state in Manila Cathedral is the first to be held there for anyone other than the capital's archbishop....
The last wake held at the Manila Cathedral was for the iconic Sin, Aquino's fellow freedom champion who passed away in 2005.

Before that, the cathedral hosted the wake of Sin's predecessor, the late Rufino Cardinal Santos who passed away in 1973.

Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas, a long-time aide to Sin and who is close to the Aquino family, said not even bishops and priests could have their wake at the cathedral.

“(The privilege) is not given to any ordinary citizen, not even us bishops or priests. Only the archbishop of Manila and Cory are given that honor,” Villegas said.

Father Genaro Diwa, head of the ministry of liturgical affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila, said only the archbishop of Manila would be allowed to have his wake at the cathedral “because this is his church.”

“We break all the rules,” Diwa said, explaining the significance of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales' decision to allow Aquino's wake inside the cathedral.

Also called the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Manila Cathedral is considered the mother of all churches in the country.

The special bond between Sin and Aquino were very much on the minds of the clergy who prepared the cathedral for the former president's wake.

Sin and Aquino were stalwarts of the 1986 People Power revolt that ousted the Marcos dictatorship, and again of the 2001 People Power revolt that ousted President Joseph Estrada.

"The presence of the late cardinal is very much felt on this occasion," Diwa said.

“Since their relationship is very spiritual and deep, I think the presence of Cardinal Sin is very much felt here,” he added.

Aquino witnessed the mass and public viewing for the late cardinal in 2005.

Sin and other former Manila archbishops are buried in the cathedral’s crypt.
Speaking of the Manila archbishops, Rosales -- who succeeded Sin on the legendary cardinal's 2003 retirement -- turns 77 next week.

Named vicar-general of Manila at 32, a bishop at 40 and Sin's private secretary for 15 years, the aforementioned Villegas -- who turns 49 next month -- is the frontrunner to next lead the capital see, home to well over 3 million Catholics.

PHOTO: Reuters