Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 30: Rev Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, head of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church who was elevated as cardinal at a ceremony at the Vatican six days ago, returned here Friday to an impressive welcome.
At 53 years old, he is the youngest of all the 211 cardinals of the Catholic Church.
He is also one of 89 cardinals who have voting rights to elect the next pope, and might well himself be a papal candidate.
There are, at present, seven cardinals from India.
Only those cardinals below 80 years of age have voting rights to elect the pope, so only four Indian cardinals have such rights.
“I was really honoured to have a multi-racial team from here to witness my ordination and I am thankful to all for that. As a result of this delegation coming to Rome, I could show the secular credentials of our country to the world,” said the modest “young” cardinal.
The team from the state included bishops from other Christian denominations, Hindu seers, a Muslim moulavi, a string of senior political leaders from various parties, besides close to 300 faithful of his church.
Cleemis Catholicos is also the first major archbishop from the Kerala-based Syro Malankara Church to be elevated as cardinal.
From Kerala, the three churches under the pope include the Syro-Malabar, Latin and the Syro-Malankara churches.
In February this year, 66-year-old Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church, Mar George Alencherry was ordained cardinal.