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Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop George Alencherry Takes Oath As Cardinal

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VATICAN, FEB 18 (UCAN):  Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop George Alencherry was Saturday elevated as a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

He is among the 22 prelates who took the cardinals' traditional oath of loyalty.

The pope entered the vast basilica on a rolling platform wearing red and gold vestments and presented the new "princes of the Church" with scarlet-red birettas and gold rings during the consistory.

He asked them to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the clarity and wisdom of masters, with the energy and moral force of pastors and with the faith and courage of martyrs.

Accepting the new title, 66-year-old Cardinal Alencherry pledged to remain faithful to the Church and to "not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonour to Holy Church".

With this, he became the youngest cardinal in the country and the fourth one from Kerala to be given the title.

Around 50,000 people from across the world witnessed the ceremony, many of them waiting from morning to enter the basilica premises.

Alencherry, dressed in full red choir dress and wearing the cross on a 'rudraksham' chain walked solemnly to the pope with his hands folded to receive the red hat and ring.

He was the 11th among the 22 cardinals to receive the title.

The pope gave him San Bernardo Alle Terme as the titular church, the same as that of former cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil.

The ceremony was attended by Alencherry’s close family members and a team of ministers and Church officials from Kerala.

Fr. Paul Thelekat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, described the event as a big moment for all in the Oriental rite because "their own son" has now become a cardinal.

"He is humility personified and a down to earth person," the priest said.

Among the other new cardinals, 16 are from Europe, two from the United States, one each from Canada, Brazil and China.

Besides the Indian cardinal, other key appointments are Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

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