Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, head of the Syro-Malankara Church, has been elected president of India’s bishops’ conference, succeeding Cardinal Oswald Gracias who has completed his term.
Appointed at the conference’s 31st plenary session which concluded in Pala last week, Mar Cleemis is the sixth prelate from Kerala to be elected conference president.
Born into a middleclass family at Mukkoor in Pathanamthitta district on June 15, 1959, the Catholicos is currently the world’s youngest cardinal. His was elevated as Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church in 2007 and made cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on November 29, 2012.
Mar Cleemis’ appointment comes ahead of general elections in India in April and May this year.
At the end of the plenary meeting, Cardinal Gracias issued a pastoral letter on behalf of the country’s bishops, urging the faithful to “discern what is best for the common good” when voting in the elections.