This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received His Beatitude Issac Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India. According to tradition, the Syro-Malankar Church is able to trace its founding back to St. Thomas the apostle who evangelized India.
A synod of the Indian bishops recently selected Issac Cleemis Thottunkal as the head of the Syro-Malankaran church and at his meeting with him Benedict approved of this decision. "As Peter's Successor, I happily confirmed the Synod's decision." Thottunkal was chosen for his current office by the Synod of the Syro-Malankar Church on February 8.
The Pope emphasized how as head of the church his Beatitude must pursue a two-fold path of faithfulness that will continue to enrich the Church.
“On the one hand, through faithfulness to the Apostolic See you will always participate fully in the universal breath of the one Church of Christ; on the other hand your fidelity to the specifically Eastern features of your tradition will enable the whole Church to benefit from what in His manifold wisdom the Spirit is saying to the Churches'."
"As head and shepherd of the Syro-Malankar Church," the Pope continued, "Your Beatitude has been entrusted with the mission of leading and sustaining the Christian witness and ecclesial life of the faithful of that noble Church throughout the vast Indian Sub-Continent and the other regions where Syro- Malankar Catholics are found."
Going on to refer to the challenges of the current moment, the Holy Father expressed the view that "now is a time of new evangelization, a time of constantly renewed and convinced dialogue with all our brothers and sisters who share our Christian faith, a time of respectful and fruitful encounter between religions and cultures for the good of all, and especially the poorest of the poor.
"Our commitment to evangelization needs to be constantly renewed, as we strive to build peace, in justice and solidarity, for the whole human family. May you always draw strength from the Lord and from the collegial support of your brother bishops - the members of the Synod."
Benedict XVI concluded by assuring the major archbishop of his prayers for bishops of the Syro-Malankar Church, to whom he also sent a special greeting for "the happy occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Syro-Malankar hierarchy."