Pope Francis sent a message today upon learning of the death of Brunei’s first priest, bishop, and Cardinal: His Eminence Cardinal Cornelius Sim.
“With gratitude for Cardinal Sim’s faithful witness to the Gospel, his generous service to the Church in Brunei, and to the Holy See, I willingly join the faithful in praying for his eternal rest,” the Pope said in his message.
The 69-year-old native of Brunei passed away at around 8:28 am in Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH), Taoyuan City, Taiwan, reported Vatican News. After his arrival at the hospital on May 8, the cardinal had to undergo a regulation quarantine before undergoing cell therapy treatment.
“They attended to his 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,” Fr. Leong said. The funeral will be announced at a later date, he said, urging all to pray for his soul and for the Vicariate.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, also announced his death, saying he passed away “due to cardiac arrest”.
The Catholic weekly newspaper, Herald Malaysia, said he died while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Cardinal Sin was created a Cardinal by the Holy Father just last November.
“For me, it was bit of a shock and unexpected,” he told Vatican News, last fall. He said the challenge of the Bruneian Church is to “provide a home away from home” for the Catholic community that is largely migrant. The Church tries its best to support them, especially in times of trouble such as illness or death. It also helps them financially and with feeding programs.
At his priestly ordination on November 26, 1989, Bishop Sim became the first native priest of Brunei. In 1995 he was appointed the Vicar General of what was then Miri-Brunei Diocese, and in 1998 he was appointed Prefect of Brunei. When Saint Pope John Paul II elevated Brunei to Vicariate Apostolic on October 20, 2004, he appointed Father Sim Vicar Apostolic. Thus, he became the first local bishop of Brunei. He was consecrated bishop on January 21, 2005.
The following is the telegram of condolence from the Holy Father to the apostolic delegate in Brunei Darussalam, Archbishop Wojciech Załuski, on the death yesterday of His Eminence Cardinal Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei:
Telegram of the Holy Father
To the Most Reverend Wojciech Załuski
Apostolic Delegate to Brunei Darussalam
Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Cornelius Sim, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the clergy, religious, and laity of the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei. With gratitude for Cardinal Sim’s faithful witness to the Gospel, his generous service to the Church in Brunei, and to the Holy See, I willingly join the faithful in praying for his eternal rest. To all who mourn the late Cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus, the firstborn of the dead.