Card-Designate Basilios Cleemis: Building communion with East and West

2012-10-25 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) “I had no clue, but Cardinal Bertone [Vatican Secretary of State-ed] told me that the Holy Father wishes to include you in the coming Consistory, to honour the Syro-Malankara Church and your country”, says Cardinal-designate, Mar Baselios Cleemis. “Our main focus is to build communion with East and West. The fruit of our work testifies the goodness that full communion with the Holy See can bring. We witness these realities, the Syrian rite, working for full communion and presenting Jesus Christ as Emmanuel in our apostolate”.

In an interview with Emer McCarthy the Cardinal- designate describes how Tuesday October 23rd he was given the Papal Letter naming him one of the six men – the second from Asia - to be created Cardinal in the ‘mini-Consistory’ on November 24th next, but was asked to keep the Pontifical Secret until the Holy Father himself made the public announcement during his weekly audience with pilgrims the following day.

“On receiving the letter I straight away went to St. Peter’s Basilica, to Peter’s tomb and I knelt down and prayed. And then I spent an hour at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II, who in fact appointed me as bishop in 2001, at the age of 42. Then after praying the rosary there I went to St. Mary Major, this is a place that gives me a lot of consolation, strength and confidence where I can pray unnoticed by anyone”.

Mar Baselios Cleemis confesses a deep abiding bond with the late pontiff: “Whenever I come to Rome, I don’t miss a chance to pray at his tomb, because it is very important for me to be in spiritual communion with him”.

In fact it was Blessed John Paul II who in 2003 described the Syro-Malankara Church as the fastest growing Church in world. Rooted in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, southern India, the Syro Malankara Church is an Apostolic Church founded by St Thomas.

“St Thomas’ Christians have a history of communion with the Holy See of Rome until the 16th century which brought us divisions in the Church in India, for various reasons. Then in 1930 a group of people joined the Catholic Church under the leadership of Archbishop Mar Ivanios – who is also known as the Newman of the East- because of his reunion movement because of his Oxford movement. In 1930 when they started this reunion movement Mar Ivanios had just four people with him, just four. After 82 years, now the Church has over 500 thousand faithful, in India, North America, England and Ireland”.

“New Evangelisation has taken a new shape, the boundaries are changing as we bring Jesus to the multitudes. Where you are planted there you bloom. Our motto is to take other cultures and religions very seriously and be rooted there and work for the Gospel in that place. You are Catholic, you are One, you are Holy and you are Apostolic, but with a definite, different and distinct character”.

In his interview with Vatican Radio, His Beatitude Cardinal-designate, Mar Baselios Cleemis discusses working toward communion between the East and the West, direct evangelisation in India today and presenting Jesus Christ as God incarnate to believers and non-believers. Listen: