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Tearful adieu to Cardinal Vithayathil

Thousands from all walks of life attend funeral of Syro-Malabar Church head

Tearful adieu to Cardinal Vithayathil
Mourning attending the cardinal's funeral reporter, Kochi

April 11, 2011

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Tens of thousands of mourners bid a tearful farewell to Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) yesterday. The 84-year-old cardinal, who died of a heart attack on April 1 in Kochi, Kerala, was interred with full state honors at the city’s St. Mary’s Basilica Cathedral. Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, represented Pope Benedict XVII at the funeral. Bishops from the  other two Latin and Syro-Malankara  Catholic rites, other Christian denominations, priests and Religious, also  attended the funeral. Nitin Gadkari, president of the Hindu right wing Bharatiya Janata Party, federal minister Vayalar Ravi, Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, several state ministers and other senior politicians were also present. The ceremonies started at 3:30 p.m. with a requiem Mass led by Bishop Bosco Puthur, the interim administrator of the SMC. The cardinal’s body was then taken out in a procession around the parish before his return to the cathedral for the funeral Mass and his interment in the sanctum of the basilica. The cardinal’s last journey started the day before from Little Flower Hospital, Angamaly when his body was taken to St. Thomas Mount, Kakkanad, headquarters of the SMC, 40km away, and then to the basilica where people paid their respects. During the funeral orations, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India President Cardinal Oswald Gracious said Cardinal Vithayathil was a man full of faith, peace and devotion. "We have to carry forward his vision by following his footsteps.” Condolence messages from Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were also read out. Related report Thousands mourn Cardinal Vithayathil IB13927.1649

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