Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 24 (IANS) The Reverend Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, head of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church here, was Saturday elevated as a cardinal at a ceremony in the Vatican. He is the fifth Keralite to be made a cardinal by the Pope.
He is the first major archbishop from the Kerala−based Syro Malankara Church to be elevated as a cardinal, and the youngest from India.
Catholicos, 53, is one of the 89 among the 211 cardinals who can elect the Pope.
Five others from non−European countries were made cardinals along with Catholicos by Pope Benedict XVI.
With Catholicos’ elevation, the total number of cardinals in India is now seven, but only four of them have voting rights to elect or contest for the post of the Pope.
After being made cardinal, Catholicos said: “I am standing amidst the Kerala delegation and am extremely happy. I wish god gives the best to Keralites. Please pray for me.”
A huge Kerala delegation comprising bishops from other Christian communities, Hindu spiritual leaders, a Muslim cleric, politicians and the mayor of Thiruvananthapuram were at the ceremony.
Catholicos is from Pathanamthitta town in Kerala, 115 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
He was ordained as a priest of the church in 1986 and holds a doctorate from St. Thomas Pontifical University, Rome.
He was first appointed a bishop on August 15, 2001, and was elevated as the major archbishop in 2007.
In February, Mar George Alencherry, 66, major archbishop of Ernakulam−Angamaly diocese of the Syro−Malabar Church, was ordained as a cardinal.