Papal visit to India in the offing! Cardinals hold talks with PM Modi

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

New Delhi: Pope Francis may visit India once the shadow of COVID-19 risk lifts over the country. In his meeting with the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church the other day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reportedly warm about the intended visit by the supreme pontiff of the Church.

The Cardinals who met the Prime Minister apprised him that Pope Francis was keen to visit India and this matter was raised by the Church earlier also. 

The Prime Minister reportedly assured the Cardinals that he would consider their request.

The Church leaders want that Pope Francis' visit should be both as the Head of the State of Vatican and also the global chief of the Catholic Church as is the practice followed during his trip to other countries.

Catholics Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) president Cardinal Oswald Gracious, Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar George  Alencherry and Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis called on the Prime Minister and held discussions with him on inviting the Pope to India.

The arrangements for his visit could be made after the restrictions related to Covid-19 are lifted.

The last papal visit to India was by John Paul II to in 1999.

Kottayam still nostalgic about papal visit

John Paul II was the last Pope to visit Kerala, but it was 35 years ago -- in February 1986.

When talks are progressing on the proposed visit to India by Pope Francis, the faithful in Kottayam still holds fond memories of the 1986 papal visit.

John Paul II beatified Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Alphonsa, the later Saint Alphonsa, during his visit. The beatification ceremony was held at a specially set up stage at the Nagampadom Maidan in Kottayam town.

The Pope also inaugurated the renewed mass order of Syro-Malabar Church and offered mass from the same podium.

Pope John Paul began the mass by saying "Athyunnathangalil daivathinu sthuthi" (Praise God The Almighty) in Malayalam thrice. He was assisted by 600 priests during the holy mass. The people who attended the ceremony were witness to the longest speech made by the Pope in India.

Later the podium from where Pope John Paul addressed the gathering and conducted the mass, was removed from the site, but preserved and protected as a memorial in front of Saint Alphonsa’s tomb at the St. Mary's Catholic Church, Bharananganam.

The decision to install the podium and preserve it as a blessed memorial was taken by the diocesan council headed by the then Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Pallikaparambil.

The four pillars of the podium, made of wood, are covered with brass.

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