Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines have expressed deep sadness over the death of Cardinal Cornelius Sim, the first and only Cardinal from Brunei.
“In behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, I offer heartfelt condolences to the clergy, religious and laity of the Apostolic Vicariate in Brunei Darussalam,” read a statement signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops’ conference.
“Cardinal Cornelius Sim was very close to the bishops and priests of the Philippines,” said the prelate.
“I recall with gratitude His Eminence’s unfailing commitment to spread the Gospel, his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace, and his untiring and devoted service to the Church in Brunei and in the whole of Asia,” added Archbishop Valles.
Cardinal Sim died on Saturday, May 29, in Taiwan where he was undergoing cancer treatment.
The cardinal passed away at 8:28 a.m. in the city of Taoyuan’s Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. He was 69.
Monsignor Robert Leong, vicar general of the Brunei vicariate, said Cardinal Sim arrived in Taiwan on May 8 for his “cell therapy treatment.”
He said the doctors attended to the cardinal’s health condition every day “but unfortunately everything they did doesn’t seem to be very effective.”
“He gradually became weaker and has lost most of his vitality. Sadly, he passed away this morning,” Monsignor Leong said in a statement on Saturday.
“I am deeply saddened by this news,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan in the Philippines on Saturday.
“Cardinal Cornelius was very close to the bishops of the Philippines,” he added.
Pope Francis raised Bishop Sim to the rank of cardinal at a consistory on Nov. 28, 2020, and was named cardinal-priest of San Giuda Taddeo Apostolo in Rome.
An engineering graduate at Dundee University in Scotland, he worked in Brunei for seven years before starting his priestly studies.
Ordained in 1989, he became Brunei’s first local priest.
When St. John Paul II elevated Brunei to vicariate apostolic in 2004, he appointed Sim as its first bishop.
On Dec. 16, 2020, the pope named him member of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy.
Monsignor Leong said funeral services for the cardinal will be announced at a later date.
“Let us pray for his soul and for the vicariate. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.