|Tuesday, 19 April 2011|
| By Catholic News Service |
COCHIN, India - Church leaders mourned the death of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
The Cardinal, who headed the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, collapsed while celebrating Mass on 1 April and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died, reported the Asian Church news agency UCA News. The 84 year old prelate had suffered from heart problems.
His funeral was scheduled for after 10 April because most Syro-Malabar Bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visits in which they report on the status of their dioceses.
Auxiliary Bishop Bosco Puthur of Ernakulam-Angamaly will take over as administrator of the Syro-Malabar Church and must convene a Synod which will elect a new major Archbishop.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to express his condolences and recalled “the Cardinal’s dedication and service to the Syro-Malabars and to the universal Church.”
Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, praised Cardinal Vithayathil as a “great missionary and exemplary priest, who contributed a lot for the growth of the Church in India and the Syro-Malabar Church.”