Jamie Lachica Sin was born in New Washington, on the island of Panay on August 31, 1928. Panay, located some 300 miles southeast of Manila, is part of the Philippine Archipelago - a combine of over 7,000 islands. He was born into a very, very Catholic family with sixteen children, he being the seventh. His father converted when he married Jamie's mother who was a "living saint." He began his journey to the priesthood at St. Vincent Ferrer Archdiocesan Seminary in the city of Iliolo on the south end of Panay in the early forties. His seminary training was abruptly interrupted when the Japanese invaded and he was forced to take refuge in the mountains. After the war, he finished his studies and was ordained as a missionary priest for the Archdiocese of Capiz on April 3, 1954 where he was assigned to freelance throughout the island, navigating the rugged mountain terrains to bring the Sacraments to hundreds of small parishes in remote areas.
In 1957 he was assigned the first Rector of a new seminary in the northern-most city of Panay - Roxas City at St. Pius X Seminary where he remained until 1967 while also obtaining a B.S. in Education from Immaculate Conception College in the same city in 1959. The next year he was honored by Pope John XXIII by being designated a Domestic Prelate and seven years later on February 10, 1967 he was forced to vacate his post as Rector for Pope Paul VI had named him the new Titular Bishop of Obba and Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro where he was consecrated on March 18, 1967. On June 20, 1970 the Holy Father made him Apostolic Administrator, Sede Plena of the Archdiocese and two years later promoted to Coadjutor Archbishop of Jaro and Titular Archbishop of Massa Lubrense on January 15, 1972. His waiting period lasted less just over nine months for on October 8, 1972 he became Archbishop of Jaro. But his time there would be shorter than he anticipated for the Pope had other plans for this up and coming prelate.
In a move that would show the world what a gem the Philippines had, the Pope elevated Archbishop Sin to the Metropolitan See of Manila on January 21, 1974. That same year he was elected Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. The honors were just beginning for he was named one of the younger cardinals in Paul VI's Consistory of May 24, 1976, receiving the titular church of Santa Maria ai Monti. Returning to his beloved Philippines with his red-hat he was cheered dileriously by throngs of faithful in Manila.
He has received nearly thirty honorary Doctorates from prestigious universities in the Philippines and the United States from Yale to Seton Hall. A year after being admitted into the Sacred Conclave he was elected as a Permanent Member of the Synod of Bishops in Rome and the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. He was also elected into the Roman Curia with memberships on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Commission for Social Communication as well as the Secretariat for Non-Christians.
He returned to Rome several times in 1978, both for his participation in the Curia and in the Sacred Conclave for two of them were held that year. First Paul VI passed away on August 6, 1978 and he huddled with his fellow College of Cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel for the first time, deciding twenty days later on Cardinal Albino Luciani as the next Sovereign Pontiff. He took the name Pope John Paul I in honor of both John XXIII and his immediate successor Paul VI. Cardinal Sin returned to the Philippines but had to turn right around and head back to Rome on the Feast of the Archangels for the day before the world was once again in shock when it was announced that John Paul I was dead. For the second time he was cloistered and this time they settled on a Polish prelate Cardinal Karol Wojtyla and...we all know the rest of the story. For Pope John Paul II has leaned heavily on Cardinal Sin's expertise and wisdom. In 1981 he made him a member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organization and Economic Questions relating to the Holy See, and the next year a member of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See and the additional membership a year later in the Congregation for Bishops.
Meanwhile, back in the Philippines there was great unrest. He had become Archbishop and cardinal during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, an abuser of human rights, when the country was under Martial law because of big problems with guerilla activities that were trying to regain their rights. Numerous times he met with Marcos and leaders of the resistance in hopes of attaining peace. He was able to help convince Marcos and the rebels to come to a cease-fire agreement which helped lift the nine-year long Martial law restrictions. But more trouble would follow and Marcos ordered the military to attack the villagers. The cardinal called the island to prayer and through his inspiration and beseeching the people to intercede with the Blessed Virgin Mary the people stood their ground and eye-witnesses beheld a stunning, miraculous event when the soldiers saw the power of prayer and the people's faith along with signs in the sky, they laid down their weapons and joined arms in prayer. Marcos was overthrown by the People's Movement under the guidance of Corozan Aquino, the wife of her slain husband who had been executed by Marcos' men. She carried his torch and upheld the faith for the people - the Roman Catholic faith with the full support of the cardinal. In 1986 Marcos fled the country and died in exile in 1989, even though a coup attempt failed. In 1992 Fidel Ramos was elected the new president after Aquino stepped down but still communist infiltration continues to be a thorn in the side of the Church in Manila and the rest of the Philippines.
Politics wasn't all Cardinal Sin had to deal with. He also has had his share of sorrows for his people. In 1991 hundreds died when Mount Pinatubo erupted. To this beloved prelate of the Philippines, one life lost is too many. In recent years there have been many natural disasters that have devastated the Filipinos, a proud heritage that dates back to the time of Magellan in 1521 claiming the islands for Spain and bringing the faith through a wave of zealous missionaries which helped establish the Church in the far east. In 1898 the United States took possession of the islands and established the same ridiculous separation of Church and state as they have in this country. While it works in America, it didn't in the cultural Catholic climes of the Philippines. A schism called Aglipayanism - establishing a nationalist church much like the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church run by the state - peaked in 1902 but thankfully died a quick death a few years later and the Philippines were free to form their own government. Throughout the twentieth century there has been turmoil here including the three year occupation of the Japanese during World War II and great resentment was raised against the land from the rising sun. But there was also resentment to many Americans who exploited the women and pillaged national treasures after the war. In short, Filipinos have a love-hate relationship with America. In recent years there has been tension between the powerful structure of the Church joined by the strong will of the people against a secular government that has been promoting ideals not in accord with Christ's teaching. This includes birth control, abortion and the proliferation of sex and violence, the diminishing of the family unit. Cardinal Sin has been an outspoken critic of these vices that are linked to the culture of death and the strongest proponent for the Sanctity of Life in Oceania.
AT 71 he is still going strong, having increased his membership in additional Curial offices including the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for Public Affairs of the Church, and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In addition he is on the Board of Directors or Board of Advisors of countless apostolates the world over including the Apostolate for Family Consecration and the Alliance of Two Hearts to name just a few. He is not afraid to speak out for the truth and this was made clearly evident this year when the media made a circus of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell who was the spokesperson for the Human Planning people promoting the culture of death with abortions and contraception, specifically the promotion and distribution of condoms. Going against the grain Cardinal Sin had no qualms in announcing the disgrace of her visit and her message had no place in the Philippines. After the cardinal spoke the parents went into action to save their children before it was too late. But that's the kind of shepherd he is for when the threat of cardinal sin rises its ugly head, the faithful only need to heed the words of Cardinal Sin.
In this case Pontius Pilate from proud Rome is the prouder United States, washing its hands of any involvement in East Timor where Catholics are being slain in alarming numbers. The crowds are the pro-Indonesian militia groups and Indonesian military who are taking this denial as a license to kill, pillage and rape the innocent citizens of this tiny island on the far eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. America's refusal to get involved in East Timor where human rights have been abused since the former Portuguese territory, where Saint Francis Xavier brought the faith, was annexed by Indonesia in 1976. Since that time 200,000 of the country's 800,000 citizens, 85% of whom are Roman Catholic, have been murdered. Add to this the reported numbers of 150,000 to 200,000 who are being deported to West Timor and barely half the population remains. Talk about ethnic cleansing of the worst kind!
For twenty years the aberrations in East Timor have been kept a secret until Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo brought the problem to the world's attention and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Since then the world is more aware of the atrocities going on, but has done little about it until recently when the United Nations sanctioned a vote for independence for East Timor with assurances from Indonesian President B.J. Habibie that whatever the outcome Indonesia would abide and honor the people's will. Yet, storm warnings began forming this year again when intimidation tactics surfaced with pro-Indonesian forces composed mostly of college students and militia youth running amok throughout Dili, the capital city, and other parts of East Timor. Habibie sent Indonesian military in to quell the riots and, instead of establishing a cease fire and making it a safe environment for East Timorese Catholics to live and vote, the military either joined the militia youth or looked the other way as the killing continued. Yet, with UN "observers" in place, the vote took place on August 30th and the result was an overwhelming voice for independence. End of saga, the beginning of a new, bright future, right? Wrong!
The killings continued, Indonesia responded even slower. When the UN called on Habibie to rescue the people the military began rounding them up. Now they were refugees, but not taken to an area where they would necessarily be safe, but rather to Islam-dominated West Timor where they could be kept in check and the Church and her people of East Timor eventually disappear into oblivion and corpses. That is exactly what is happening. Cruel murder is being visited upon these poor people, heads severed, churches burned, villages pillaged and plundered, young women being raped before they are murdered. As we were writing this the latest news is that 18 priests have already been slaughtered.
Bishop Belo's residence, where he was sheltering over a thousand people, was attacked earlier in the week and Indonesian milita burned it to the ground, many dying in the unnecessary inferno. Bishop Belo was able to escape, but could no longer stay on the island with his beloved flock. He fled to Darwin in Northern Australia where he made an impassioned plea to the world before it is too late. Only Australia has troops at the ready - 7,000 strong to help. The Holy Father has made an impassioned plea to the international community for help. The response: Very little.
The United States chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Henry Shelton has been in contact several times by phone with Indonesia's military commander General Wiranto but it's all talk. Wait and see. Meanwhile, East Timor spirals into chaos. Why are they waiting? Could it be because the U.S. doesn't plan on getting involved? You betcha! This is the same country that raced into Kuwait in 1990. Why? Oil. This is the same country that finally got involved in Kosovo. Why? Strategic positioning and the fear the communists might gain the upper hand. Why then is America not sending peacekeepers to East Timor? First of all the Secretary of Defense said it is not America's place to be the policeman for the world. Come again? Hasn't that been the saving factor for the United States since World War I? Hasn't America built a reputation for upholding civil rights and protecting the innocent from despots and aggressive atrocities against helpless countries? Now America is washing its hands. But they are still stained, stained by the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent souls, not to mention the millions of unborn babies slain in the name of progress and women's rights. Call it what you will, abortion is murder and murder is a sin. There are two ways one can sin, by commission which America has been guilty of for the past three decades since the atrocious Roe vs. Wade decision gave doctors the license to kill; the other is by the sin of omission. That is what America and every other country that sits and waits is guilty of in respect to East Timor.
Probably the most ridiculous thing we've heard is that the UN won't authorize peacekeeping troops unless Indonesia gives permission. Indonesia's defense minister, the same General Wiranto, has said no to that. And as the days pass by, more people die. Add to this, the fear that UN observers may be forced to vacate East Timor and any hopes of independence for the citizens will have gone up in smoke as the entire island will become one incendiary blaze with no one to stop the paramilitary marauders.
History has proven that the longer one waits when there are horrible murders going on, the greater the casualties. Do they expect these pro-Indonesian hatchet men to abide by laws? Sad though it is, the only thing they're going to understand is force. And the only ones who can provide this force is the UN right now with support from the largest and most respected of militaries, the United States. Why are the UN and US and others waiting when minutes means survival or extinction? We don't buy Indonesia's flimsy excuse that if East Timor gains independence, many other islands in the huge archipelago will follow suit. They forget Indonesia agreed to allow East Timor the vote. Now they are going back on their word. It no longer is the sovereign right of Indonesia to determine East Timor's future. For Indonesia to invite a UN-supervised vote, as Jakarta did, and then to change their mind and throw out the results is unprecedented. We say Indonesia has lost all rights to make the call whether UN-sponsored troops can move in or not. It's all about repression and suppressing human rights - the dignity of man.
The real reason America has washed its hands of this mess is that East Timor has nothing to offer America in resources. Indonesia, on the other hand, long an ally to be a buffer against communism, is rich in minerals. Again, it's all about the almighty dollar. Hopefully Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's ultimatum to Jakarta that they either restore order or step aside will carry some weight, but we have our doubts. It's a known fact Habibie has no control over the military which shows what state Jakarta is in. Australia has agreed to take the lead but they can't do it alone, they need the clout of the U.S. as well. If America is to be judged in the twentieth century for its deliverance of evil around the world, the we need to be involved in East Timor. It is not another Vietnam but rather another Kosovo, this time in the far east where ethnic cleansing is running amok. To do less is akin to cowardice.
The whole crux of this sorry situation is a religious war. It's not about independence per-se but allowing Catholics to worship and live freely. The Muslims don't want this and, since they have the numbers and the big stick they're going to bully the smaller, weaker countries like East Timor. The same thing is happening in the Sudan. Look around the world and, other than Northern Ireland, the wars and battles of this decade have been against Islam. Indonesia presently symbolizes the "Scourge of God" - Attila the Hun. All we ask is for America and the UN to have the courage of Pope Saint Leo the Great and stop the enemy in his tracks before it is too late. As soldiers of Christ it is our duty to pray, as generals for Christ the Pope and Bishop Belo are doing all they can, but they are hampered by a global battalion of fence-sitters who, the longer they hesitate, the worse things get. It's a matter of life and death right now in East Timor and, whether we want to admit it or not, this is still the Crusades and if we take the safe route and wash our hands of this as not our responsibility, then the blood of East Timor is on our hands and our childrens. We need to assume the battle position on our knees in prayer and encourage America to have mercy and take action immediately and sound the battle cry from the rooftops across America and the world: The infidel must be stopped now!
People of the Old Testament (and sometimes in our own day) held that, if a person suffered great hardships, it was because they had sinned against God. This idea is contradicted by the story of Job and, of course, our Blessed Mother, who was not only immaculately conceived, but never committed the slightest offense against God. She never said “No!” to God ... ever!!!!
It would be true to say that suffering is the result of sin, that is, Original Sin. God never intended that human beings should die, get sick, or even earn bread by the sweat of their brow. It was the disobedience of Adam and Eve that brought sin into the human arena and with sin all of the effects of sin.
However, we see that our Blessed Mother, despite her perfect obedience, her perfect sinlessness, (a grace obtained for her by her Son’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection) suffered many trials and heartbreaks. She had to leave her native land and flee to Egypt to save the life of her Son; Jesus was “lost” for three days; she felt the hatred of others for Jesus; she endured unspeakable suffering in watching Jesus endure His Passion and Death.
Suffering afflicts everyone on this earth. No one is exempt. No one escapes it, even the very holy. Jesus Himself, Who is the Holy of Holies, suffered greatly. Since suffering is endured by each of us, it behooves us to strive to carry our crosses the way a Christian should. In Scripture we never witness Jesus murmuring, grumbling, complaining about what He had to suffer. We do not see Him lashing out at others, taking revenge on others, calling anyone names, wishing anyone harm. He not only endured all with great patience, He endured all with great love. He appreciated the smallest kindness shown to Him, He prayed for those who caused Him suffering. He blessed. He did not curse His enemies.
Like Father, like Son! Like Mother, like Son! Like Son, like Mother!
Our Blessed Mother suffered like Jesus with patience, love, appreciation for the slightest kindness, with prayer, with kindness for others. In so doing her suffering brought her closer to God because it is in trials that our virtue is truly tested. In Heaven we shall learn, also, to what extent her suffering contributed to the salvation of souls.
We all know that the greatest evil is sin, but the next greatest evil is not suffering ... it is WASTED suffering.
Every day in our morning offering, let us united all of our sufferings of the day with Our Lord’s sufferings (through Mary). That way our sufferings, too, will be meritorious for our own salvation and the salvation of others. And let us try to imitate Jesus and His Mother ... our Mother in the way They handled their sufferings.
God bless you!