Cardinal Baselios Cleemis on Tuesday said he was hopeful that Pope Francis would include Kerala in his itinerary when his India visit materializes. “The Catholic Bishops’ Conference” of India (CBCI) has extended Pope Francis an invitation and he has agreed to visit India. Now, a formal invitation has to be extended by our Head of State. We understand that steps are being taken in this regard,” said Mar Cleemis, who is the president of CBCI.

The CBCI has held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard. He has given a favorable response, Mar Cleemis said. Only when the India Government issues a formal invitation would Vatican work out the Pope’s itinerary and date of visit. “ We also have to understand that Pope Francis is in his 80s. Pope John Paul was in his 60s when he visited 14 places in India in 1986. When he visited India again in 1999, it was just New Delhi,” he said.

The government should introduce measures to end the hardships faced by the people on account of demonetization, Cardinal Cleemis said. It is the duty of the government to take precautions when introducing a new initiative, he said. “The indications from all around are that necessary precautions were not taken,” he said. Cleemis said he hoped that the govt would hold discussions with all stakeholders before revising KER.

Cardinal Cleemis will spend Friday afternoon with the elderly inmates of Karunalayam, an orphanage at Pothencode. The Christmas services of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church will be held at the St Mary’s Cathedral, Pattom, at 8 pm on Saturday. “Christmas is an occasion which reminds humanity of God’s love for man, that man is not an orphan,” he said.

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