Cardinal-designate Mar Baselios Cleemis returns home

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 31, 2012 11:30 hrs

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 31 (IANS) Cardinal-designate Dr. Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos arrived to a tumultuous welcome at the airport here Wednesday.

The 53-year-old head of the Kerala-headquartered Syro Malankara Catholic Church was Thursday last elevated as a cardinal by the Pope in Vatican and became one of the 89 who can go on to become the Pope.

Those who turned up to greet the cardinal-designate Wednesday morning included Speaker of Kerala assembly G. Karthikeyan, state ministers, legislators and a large contingent from the church.

"I will see that Indian culture and its message is spread across the globe by me," the cardinal-designate said.

The ordination will take place in Vatican Nov 24. Cleemis will become the fifth Keralite to be made a cardinal.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy congratulated the cardinal-designate.

With this, Cleemis becomes the first major archbishop from the Syro Malankara Church to be elevated as cardinal, and the youngest person from the country to become a cardinal.

There are currently six cardinals in the country, but only three of them have voting rights to elect a Pope, as only those cardinals below 80 years of age can vote for the Pope.

The Malankara Church is one of the three different churches that make the Catholic Church in the state, along with the Latin and 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.

Once Cleemis is ordained a cardinal, the total number of cardinals in the Catholic Church will be 211. Only 89 of these are below 80 years old and eligible to vote for the Pope.

Cleemis Catholicos was ordained a priest of the church in 1986 and holds a doctorate from the St Thomas Pontifical University, Rome.

He was first appointed a bishop Aug 15, 2001, and elevated as Major Archbishop in 2007.

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