05 November 2020, The Tablet

The younger brother: cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim of Brunei

College of Cardinals

The younger brother: cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim of Brunei

Cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim, right, with Pope Francis
Photo: CNS/Vatican Media


As the Church under Francis tilts towards the east, the Tablet’s Rome correspondent meets one of the newest Asian bishops to don a red hat, Cornelius Sim of Brunei

Sometimes Pope Francis likes to pull off dramatic surprises, at other times he likes to advance his reforms with slow, steady incremental steps. In reshaping the College of Cardinals since his election, he has done both. On 28 November 2020, he will name another 13 cardinals, nine of them under the age of 80, and eligible to vote for his successor.

Throughout his pontificate, Francis has surprised people by choosing unknown bishops from far-flung corners of the globe, bypassing the leaders of bigger, more powerful dioceses who once assumed a cardinal’s red hat went with the territory, particularly in Italy and the United States. After seven and a half years of this papacy, 45 per cent of the cardinal electors will come from the global south, the highest share ever.

The changes he has made to who can be expected to become a cardinal will be one of Francis’ most enduring legacies. But it might be the shift of the Church’s centre of gravity towards Asia that history will come to see as having been the most significant change that took place during this papacy. This is the continent where many see the richest pool of future Church leaders and, at the end of this month, 12.5 per cent of the cardinal-electors will be Asian.

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User Comments (2)

Comment by: John Borelli
Posted: 18/11/2020 20:47:49
Interesting and helpful, so little has been available about the cardinal-designate from Brunei. And big thank-you to Christopher. I would be interested if Christopher had pursued what Cardinal Sim recalls from his studies at Steubenville and what further theological education he had afterward. I would hope that the cardinal would be favorable to the way Pope Francis has picked up the initiatives of Vatican II and is pursuing them. And, does the cardinal-designate how a good working relationship with Cardinal Tagle? Of all Asian candidates who are papabile, Cardinal Tagle stands out.
Comment by: Brian MacGarry sj
Posted: 08/11/2020 11:53:26
The indigenous VaPositori churches in Zimbabwe preach self-sufficiency and some of their members produce simple robes, mostly white for their own members but some in colours, including red. Current cost US$7. It would be good to see some of those around Rome at the next Conclave, but might be easier for anyone who is interested to take the idea to his nearest roadside tailor. I could supply a picture if required. Design is simple enough for a tailor to draw a pattern from the photo.