Thousands of Catholic devotees and officials from the Holy See attended the funeral of Cardinal Paul Shan (單國璽) yesterday, following his death last month after a long battle with lung cancer.
Shan said in his will that because he had kept a vow of poverty throughout his life, his funeral should not be in any sense luxurious, said Kaohsiung diocese’s Archbishop Peter Liu (劉振忠), who was among the attendees at the burial Mass.
In accordance with Shan’s wishes, the chapel at St Dominic Catholic High School was simply decorated with candles and crucifixes, and flower bouquets were not accepted, Liu added.
After the funeral service, Shan was to be buried in a local Catholic cemetery in a simple coffin on a site no bigger than 1 ping (3.3m2) in compliance with his will, the archbishop said. Also, a foundation will be set up in Shan’s name to care for the well-being of disadvantaged people in an effort to continue the cardinal’s dedication to Taiwan’s less fortunate, Liu added.
Shan, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, died on Aug. 22 at the age of 88.
Among the mourners at the funeral were Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai (韓大輝), secretary of the Vatican department responsible for missionary work, Cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), who also served as the sixth Bishop of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong (湯漢).
Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone also paid tribute to Shan and sent condolences from the Vatican to church members in Taiwan. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also attended the funeral, paid homage to the late cardinal, recognizing Shan’s religious dedication. Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師), founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order in Kaohsiung, expressed his sadness over Shan’s passing as well as the hope that Shan will become a role model of mercy because of his spirit of “sacrificing enjoyments and his enjoyment of sacrifices.”
Appointed to the position of cardinal by the late Pope John Paul II in 1998, Shan was the first Catholic cardinal to serve in Taiwan.
Shan retired in 2006, the same year he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given four to six months to live. In 2007, he started touring the country, speaking about his faith and his battle with cancer at schools, hospitals and prisons. Known as an advocate for peace, Shan has been praised for his contribution to promoting education and his dedication to helping others.