Thiruvananthapuram: The Catholic community in Kerala is definitely in an upbeat mood, ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican.
Modi is travelling to Rome and Glasgow from Friday to November 2 to attend the G20 Summit and the World Leaders’ Summit of COP26.
During his European visit, he will call on the Pope and the two are scheduled to meet for 30 minutes at 8.30 a.m.
Christians in Kerala constitute around 19 per cent of the state’s 33 million population.
The three Catholic churches account for 50 per cent of the Christians in the state.
In Kerala, the Roman Catholic, Latin and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church owe their allegiance to the Pope.
Speaking to IANS, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said he is extremely delighted about the meeting.
“It definitely is iconic, as one represents the Catholic community which is the biggest religious community in the world and the other who heads the world’s biggest democracy, which has an ancient culture. This makes us all Indians proud. I’m very confident that the meeting will give the human community a lot to ponder on the much needed religious harmony besides a deep caring for the poor and downtrodden,” said Cleemis.
“I wish all the God’s blessings for the meeting and also about the subsequent outcome of this, which includes a wish of all, for a visit by the Pope to India.”
During their meeting in 2014 soon after Modi assumed office, Cleemis gave a memorandum stating that the Union Government should extend an invite to the Pope to visit India.
The last papal visit to India was a very brief one which took place in 1999 and the only time that a Pope visited Kerala was way back in 1986.
A Catholic on the condition of anonymity told IANS that a papal visit to Kerala is long delayed and Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis could set the ground for a possible visit by the latter to the state.
“Pope John Paul II is the only Pope who had visited Kerala. He was in the state for two days on February 7 and 8, 1986 and the purpose of his visit was to beatify Sister Alphonsa and Kuriakose Elias Chavara popularly known as Chavara Achen.”
Those, who attended the public meeting then, recall the Pope beginning his prayers at Kottayam on February 8, 1986 in Malayalam “Thinungelil Dhaivethinu Stuthi” (glory to the God in the height) thrice.