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Hundreds pay tribute to cardinal

Church celebrates contribution and bold decisions of 'a great man of prayer and faith'

Hundreds pay tribute to cardinal
Political and Church leaders attend a memorial service for Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil
Jessy Joseph, New Delhi

April 18, 2011

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Scores of Church and political leaders joined hundreds of people on Saturday to pay tribute to Cardinal Varkey Vithayathila at a New Delhi memorial service.

The concelebrated Mass by bishops and priests from Latin and Syro-Malankara Catholic rites was presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Delhi.

Retried Bishop Gratian Mundadan of Bijnor in his homily praised the cardinal’s contribution to the Syro-Malabar Church and society.

Cardinal Vithayathil greatest concern was to provide pastoral care to the Oriental Catholics, he said.

The cardinal was known for his bold decisions and pressed the Vatican to implement the teachings of Second Vatican Council on rites.

During the multi-lingual Mass, celebrated in English, Hindi and Malayalam, Bishop Mundadan told the gathering of more that 500 people that the late cardinal was a friend to people of all faiths.

Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi conducted the prayer for the dead.

Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas, apostolic visitator to Syro-Malankara Church said Cardinal Vithayathil worked for religious amity.

The Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, said he was impressed by the cardinal’s warm demeanor and simplicity as a great man of prayer and faith.

Mabel Rebello, Member of Parliament, said the cardinal’s death was a “big loss” for the Indian church.

Oscar Fernandes, a Catholic national leader, said the Church had lost a good leader. “He had great acceptance in the church and civil society”.

“He is not dead his spirit is with us and we have a strong mediator in heaven”, said Father Thomas d’ Aquino Sequeria, deputy secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

The memorial service for the 84-year-old cardinal, who died on April 1 following a heart attack, was organized by the CBCI, Delhi archdiocese and Delhi Syro-Malabar church.

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