Kochi, Jan 6 (IANS) The Vatican has elevated Mar George Alencherry, the 66-year-old leader of Kerala's Syro-Malabar Church, to a Cardinal.
The announcement was simultaneously made Friday at the church headquarters here and at the Vatican.
Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly diocese would be enthroned a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Feb 18.
The Syro-Malabar Church is one of three churches in Kerala that owe their allegiance to the Pope and are part of the Roman Catholic Church. The other two are the Latin and Syro-Malankara churches.
Born in Kottayam district, Alencherry was ordained a priest in 1972 and has since then held important posts in the Church.
He was ordained a bishop in 1997 and last May was elected the Major Archbishop by his church.
Speaking to IANS, Fr Paul Thelekkat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church said that Alencherry will be the country's youngest Cardinal.
'At present there are five Cardinals in India, of which three are above 80 years of age and hence do not have voting rights. Now, Alencherry would become the third Cardinal in the country and would be one among the 120 Cardinals who have voting rights to elect the Pope,' said Thelekkat.