Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 21: A huge delegation comprising a team of bishops, an inter−religious group of spiritual leaders and around 400 laity will be in Vatican to witness the ordination of Cardinal−designate Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos Saturday.
The 53−year−old head of the Kerala−headquartered Syro Malankara Catholic Church was earlier elevated as Cardinal by the Pope. He became one of 89 cardinals who could go on to become the Pope.
“The ecumenical team consists of two archbishops and four bishops from other Christian communities, while the inter−religious delegation consists of a Moulavi, three swamis of different religious groups and laity numbering 400,” said the spokesperson of the church to IANS.
The political delegation consists of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurian, Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Vengopal, Indian Union Muslim League’s Lok Sabha member E.T. Mohammed Basheer, Congress legislator Palode Ravi, and the Thiruvananthapuram mayor and CPI−M leader K. Chandrika.
Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos becomes the first major archbishop from the Kerala−based Syro Malankara Church to be elevated as cardinal. He is also the youngest person from the country to be made cardinal.
Currently there are six cardinals in the country. Of these, only three have voting rights to elect the Pope, as only those below 80 years of age are eligibile to vote.
The Malankara Church is one of the three churches that comprise the Catholic Church in the state. The others are the Latin and the Syro Malabar churches.
Formed in 1930 as part of the re−unification movement, the Syro Malankara Catholic Church has a following of around five lakh.
With the ordination of Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the total number of cardinals in the Catholic Church has touched 211.
Cleemis Catholicos was ordained priest of the church in 1986, and holds a doctorate from the St. Thomas Pontifical University, Rome.
He was first appointed bishop Aug 15, 2001, and elevated to Major Archbishop 2007.