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Thousands mourn Cardinal Vithayathil
Funeral for much-loved Syro-Malabar Church leader set for April 10 in KeralaPeople pay homage to Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, who died on April 1 in Kochi
- ucanews.com reporter, Kochi
- April 4, 2011
Bishop Bosco Puthur, who has taken over as administrator of the Oriental Catholic Church, has announced the funeral will be held on April 10 in Kochi, Keralaâ€™s commercial capital.
Churches across India offered special prayers for the cardinal during Sunday Mass yesterday.
The Catholic Church in Kerala has announced 10 days of official mourning for Cardinal Vithayathil. Condolence meetings were held in all Kerala parishes yesterday.
Churches belonging to the Latin and Syro-Malankara Catholic rites in Kerala also flew black flags and postponed celebrations as mark of respect for the cardinal.
Long queues of people gathered outside Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly where the cardinal's body lies.
His remains will go to St Georgeâ€™s Basilica in Angamaly on April 9 and then taken to the headquarters of Syro-Malabar Church near Kochi.
Thousands of people flocked to Lisie Hospital after local television announced the cardinalâ€™s death.
Communist Party of India Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat was among the first high-profile figures to reach the hospital. He was in Kerala at the time on an election campaign.
Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelakat said ordinary poor people outnumbered priests and nuns among the mourners.
â€śThe crowd that came to the hospital shows the cardinalâ€™s popularity among ordinary people,â€ť the priest said.
Vijayan Beena, a government official, said she had met the cardinal several times and was surprised at his â€śgenuine concernâ€ť for the poor. â€śHe could always think above narrow religious lines,â€ť she said today.
P. K. Narayana Panicker, secretary of a Hindu association, said the cardinal had a special love and respect for all religions.
â€śHe led the Church without offending anybody,â€ť he added.
T. Arifali, a Muslim cleric, said Cardinal Vithayathil was the hope for unity in Keralaâ€™s politically polarized community.