Trivandrum (AsiaNews) - "No pope spoke about his divine mission in so a powerful and conscious way," said His Beatitude Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Trivandrum. Speaking to AsiaNews about Benedict XVI and his pontificate, he noted, "he is a true disciple of Christ who showed others what it means to be a true Christian and Catholic".
The pope announced that he would give up the Petrine Ministry on 28 Ministry. The Indian prelate is one of the 117 cardinal electors who will pick a successor. Pundits are already trying to imagine what would make an ideal pope and who he might be. But for Card Thottunkal, "rather talk about the problems and challenges the new Holy Father will face or how old he ought to be, we should reflect instead on what his main task will be."
"For many people, especially in Asia, it is clear that he must be someone who can travel the world, and continue on the ecumenical and interfaith path" laid down by Benedict XVI. Above all, we need a pope who is "involved in every aspect of his Petrine Ministry, who is first of all vicar of Christ and bishop of Rome, someone who can, with hope, charity and courage, bring together and unite Catholics from all continents and rites, whilst proclaiming the Gospel to all places."
"It is important for all those who live in the Catholic Church to cooperate" in this mission, lay as well as consecrated people, "so that each one of us can bear witness to our Christian faith".
The pope who will come out of the next conclave will have the good fortune of Benedict XVI's example, the prelate said, "especially his devotion to the Church and God's law."
"Benedict XVI took on a difficult inheritance, that of John Paul II, a great pope who travelled a lot and met millions of people. It was not going to be easy for anyone to be Pope Wojtyla's successor. Yet, Benedict XVI was able to perform in his divine mission in wonderful way."
We saw this "from the start with his first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 'God is love', and in all his homilies, catecheses, encyclicals and apostolic exhortations."
Benedict XVI elevated His Beatitude to the dignity of cardinal last 24 November, after the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation (7-28 October 2012).
For the prelate, Pope Ratzinger is "humble, gentle, loving and understanding man who reminded the world that it needs God's presence and that it must follow Jesus Christ, whom the Lord sent us as our Saviour. In Benedict XVI, I found a true disciple of Christ." (GM)