The pope mourns the death of Cardinal Shem
Victor Vladimirov – Vatican City
IN telegram Condolences Pope Francis expresses deep condolences to the clergy and laity of the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei. The Bishop of Rome recalls with gratitude “the faithful testimony of the Gospel and the generous ministry of Cardinal Shem of the Catholic Church in Brunei and the Holy See.” Pope Francis spiritually joins the funeral prayers of believers for the newly departed cardinal and gives – as a sign of consolation and peace in the risen Jesus, the firstborn from the dead – an apostolic blessing to all who, with a firm hope of resurrection, share the sorrow over the death of this zealous shepherd.
The Brunei hierarch was born on September 16, 1951. His call to the priesthood was preceded by a higher education in engineering in Scotland, and then theological at the Franciscan University of Subanville (Ohio, USA): Cornelius Sim was ordained at the age of 38, becoming the first Brunei priest in history. In 1995, by the decision of Pope John Paul II, the prelate was appointed Vicar General of Brunei, and two years later – Apostolic Prefect of Brunei. On January 21, 2005, Monsignor Sim received episcopal consecration, and on November 28, 2020, Pope Francis elevated him to the rank of cardinal. Due to the pandemic, the hierarch was unable to come to Rome and take part in the consistory; the biretta, the ring and the Papal bull with the title were later presented to him by the apostolic delegate in Brunei.
Most of the inhabitants of this Asian country are Muslims; the local vicariate numbers about 20 thousand Catholics from three parishes, they are served by four priests.
Since the death of Cornelius Sim, the College of Cardinals has 222 hierarchs, of whom 125 are voters and 97 are non-voting. Since the newly reposed hierarch was the only cardinal from the State of Brunei Darussalam, this country is no longer represented in the College of Cardinals, which now includes hierarchs from 87 countries.