01/19/2007, 00.00
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Mar Baselios, “pastor of the Syro-Malankara Church,” dies

by Nirmala Carvalho
The prelate dies at the age of 71 from a heart attack. The archbishop of Mumbai remembers him. India’s Christian community mourns a charismatic leader, involved in education interfaith dialogue, and the search for the truth.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Cyril Baselios Malancharuvil died at the age of 71 from a heart attack. He was the head of the Syro-Malankara Church in Kerala. The Christian community of India remembers him as “a dynamic leader, involved in education and interfaith dialogue”.

Mgr Baselios was archbishop of the Major Church of Trivandrum since 2005. From 1999 till 2004 he held the post of president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). He was also a permanent member of the Congregation for Oriental Churches in Rome.

Mgr Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and current CBCI president, was a close friend. Talking to AsiaNews he remembers Mar Baselios.

“His greatest contribution to the Church was inculturation. He understood its importance for evangelisation in India, of communicating the Gospels taking into account local traditions and the Asian soul of the population.”

This attitude earned him the appreciation of political authorities in the central government as well as in Kerala.

Mar Baselios had developed especially good relations with Oriental Churches, in particular with the Orthodox, building bridges of communion and harmony.

Upon hearing the news of his death, messages of condolences have poured in.

For John Dayal, chairman of the All India Catholic Union, the death of such “charismatic leader” is “a loss for the entire Church”.

“When he was CBCI president we saw him deal with various problems linked to the fundamentalism of the country’s Hindu rightwing,” Mr Dayal said.

“He was a great scholar who did a lot to highlight every time he had a chance the ancient Christian traditions of this land. He also backed the movement for Dalit rights”.

Sajan George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, remembers Mar Baselios as “the pastor of the Syro-Malankara Church, always involved in the search for and the teaching of the truth”.

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