MANILA - Like the multitudes that have paid tribute to former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the Catholic Church also gave a singular honor to the woman described by Pope Benedict XVI as a “woman of deep, unwavering faith” by allowing her wake in the Manila Cathedral.
Bishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas said that the holding of wakes in the cathedral is reserved only for the demise of an archbishop of Manila. He then revealed that Aquino is the first layperson to have her wake at Manila Cathedral.
Also known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Manila Cathedral last hosted the wake for Jaime Cardinal Sin who died in 2005.
The choice of Manila Cathedral as a temporary stop for Cory's remains is largely seen as a result of the close ties between Aquino and Sin, who joined forces in fighting the Marcos dictatorship.
But Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said Manila Cathedral was not the original choice for the wake.
Sto. Domingo Church, where the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.'s wake was held, would have been an obvious choice. Relations between the Aquino family and those running the church, however, are reportedly not good.
Without naming names, Noynoy said: “The other church that was closely related to us, well, we heard during the 25th death anniversary of my father (in 2008) that we were not welcome there.”
Members of religious groups then suggested Manila Cathedral. And when the Aquino family requested, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales immediately agreed to open the cathedral's doors to Cory even though she was a layperson.
A church insider said: “But then again, she is no ordinary lay person; she has shown a deep devotion to the Catholic faith.”
Renewal and reform
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo also lauded the efforts of Cory and Ninoy.
“At the most crucial stage of our country's history, President Cory and Ninoy were there to become the symbol of reformation and transformation our country has long for,” Lagdameo was quoted by CBCP.org. “She was there not only to start the movement of renewal and reform [because her example remained with] her successors who tried to continue what she began.”
“Her leadership and everything that are being said about her are the legacy that we will long remember,” said Lagdameo, who officiated the Sunday noontime requiem mass for Cory at La Salle Green Hills.
“The prayer of the Filipino people in the period of President Cory's agony has finally found an answer from God. May the Lord give her eternal rest,” added Lagdameo. By Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News