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Joy over Syro-Malankara appointment

Church head becomes its first ever cardinal

Cardinal-designate Cleemis will be ordained on November 24 Cardinal-designate Cleemis will be ordained on November 24
  • ucanews.com reporter, Kochi
  • India
  • October 25, 2012
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Half a million faithful across the globe were today celebrating yesterday’s papal announcement appointing Major Archbishop Catholicos Baselios Mar Cleemis, the head of the Syro-Malankara Church in India, a cardinal.

The 53-year-old cardinal-designate becomes the Syro-Malankara Church’s first ever cardinal and the youngest in the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals which elects the Pope.

Metropolitan Archbishop Thomas Mar Coorilos of Thiruvalla made the announcement at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Pattom in the southern state of Kerala yesterday afternoon.

“It’s a historic moment for our church and a great honor. We thank God for this great gift,” he said.

“He has always strived to spread the belief of the Church” and to uphold India’s heritage on a global platform. This is “recognition for his great work,” the archbishop added.

Celebrations by the clergy and the laity were marked with prayer sessions, the tolling of church bells and many firecrackers.

Auxiliary Bishop Samuel Mar Irenios of Thiruvananthapuram said the honor will “inspire us to do better.”

Cardinal-designate Cleemis was one of six new cardinals appointed by the pontiff yesterday.

He is the fifth person from Kerala to become a cardinal in the 2000-year-old history of the Catholic Church.

State chief minister Oommen Chandy, who called Cardinal-designate Cleemis in Rome to congratulate him, said his elevation was an honor not only for Kerala but for India too.

“I know the Catholicos personally. He is a man of vision and action. He has always stood for peace and communal harmony,” the chief minister told ucanews.com.

Cardinal-designate Cleemis is due to return to India on October 31 from Rome.

“We are making elaborate arrangements to welcome our church head on his return,” a Syro-Malankara official said.

Cardinal-designate Cleemis’ ordination will be held at the Vatican on November 24. During the ceremony, he will receive the cardinal's insignia and official apparel, including the famous red hat.

Born in Mallappally in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district on June 15, 1959, Cardinal-designate Cleemis was ordained a priest in 1986 and later served for a number of years as a parish priest in Bathery diocese.

He later obtained a doctorate from the Pontifical Seminary at the Vatican.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II appointed him apostolic visitor for North America and auxiliary bishop of Thiruvananthapuram archdiocese.
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