Baselios Cleemis

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Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal Maphrian
Cardinal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal.jpg
Native name
ബസേലിയോസ് ക്ലീമിസ്
ChurchSyro-Malankara Catholic Church
SeeTrivandrum, India
Appointed10 February 2007
Installed5 March 2007
PredecessorCyril Baselios Maphrian
Other posts
Ordination11 June 1986
by Cyril Baselios
Consecration15 August 2001
by Cyril Baselios
Created cardinal24 November 2012
by Pope Benedict XVI
Personal details
Birth nameIsaac Thottumkal
Born (1959-06-15) 15 June 1959 (age 59)
Mukkoor, Thiruvalla, Kerala, India
ParentsMathew and Annamma Thottumkal
Previous post
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum (2001–2003)
  • Titular Bishop of Chaialum (2001–2003)
  • Bishop of Tiruvalla (2003–2006)
  • Archbishop of Tiruvalla (2006–2007)
Alma materPontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas
MottoTo Unite in Love
Coat of armsBaselios Cleemis Thottunkal Maphrian's coat of arms
Styles of
Baselios Cardinal Cleemis
Coat of arms of Cardinal Baselios Cleemis.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeSan Bernardo alle Terme (titular see)
In liturgical vestment, 2015

Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal Maphrian (Malayalam: ബസേലിയോസ് ക്ലിമ്മീസ്) is the current Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. He was named to the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2012.[1][2][3][4][5]

At the moment of his selection, he was the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He is the first cardinal of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. On 31 January 2013, he was named a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He served as the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India from 2014 to 2018. He has previously served as Chairman of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council.

Early life[edit]

Baselios Cleemis was born on 15 June 1959 as Isaac Thottumkal (alternatively spelled as Thottunkal) in Mukkoor, a small village close to Mallappally town in Pathanamthitta district in the State of Kerala in South India. His parents are Mathew and Annamma Thottumkal. The Thottumkal family is a part of the Pakalomattom family, which is an ancient Syrian Christian family in Kerala.[6]


He attended the Minor Seminary Formation in Tiruvalla from 1976 to 1979. He received a B.Phil. degree from St. Joseph's Pontifical Institute, Mangalapuzha, Aluva, where he attended from 1979 to 1982. He received a B.Th. degree from the Papal Seminary, Pune where he attended from 1983 to 1986. Thottunkal was ordained a priest on 11 June 1986. He studied for the Master of Theology in Dharmaram College, Bangalore where he attended from 1986 to 1989. Thottunkal took his Doctorate in Ecumenical Theology from Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome in 1997.[7]

Episcopal career[edit]

On his return from Rome he became the Vicar General (Proto Syncellus) of the Eparchy of Bathery. Pope John Paul II nominated Aboon Isaac Cleemis as Apostolic Visitor and the Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum on 18 June 2001 for the Syro-Malankarites residing in North America and Europe. He was consecrated on 15 August 2001 at Tirumoolapuram, Tiruvalla, assuming the name Isaac Mar Cleemis.

The Holy See appointed Cleemis as sixth Bishop of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla on 11 September 2003. Cleemis was installed as the first Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archieparchy of Tiruvalla on 10 June 2006.

Cleemis was unanimously elected as the Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church through the first Holy Episcopal Synod of election of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church convoked on 7–10 February 2007 at Catholicate Centre, Pattom, Trivandrum. Pope Benedict XVI approved the election on 9 February and it was announced on 10 February at St. Mary's Cathedral, Pattom, Trivandrum. He assumed the name Baselios Cleemis; Cleemis was enthroned the Second Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church on 5 March 2007 at St. Mary's Cathedral, Pattom, Trivandrum. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo and Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil participated in the installation ceremony.

Cleemis and the Syro-Malankara Church have claimed the title "Catholicos" and he Major Archbishop, however, this drew some dispute from members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who say this Catholic Church, like the other Eastern Catholic Churches, is engaging in "Uniatism" and stealing the faithful away from the Orthodox.[8]

Cleemis was elevated to the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2012.[4] As Cardinal-Priest he was assigned the titular church of San Gregorio VII. He is the first bishop of the Syro-Malankara Church and the fifth Keralite to be named a cardinal. He said it was a sign of the Pope's appreciation of Indian Catholics' "unity in diversity", and cited the witness, the defense of human life, and the example of authentic prayer given by Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata.[9]

On 31 January 2013, Cleemis was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as a Member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Cleemis participated as a cardinal-elector in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.[1][2][3] Because he was the first bishop from the Syro-Malankara Church to be made cardinal, Cleemis also was the first cardinal from the Syro-Malankara Church ever to participate as a cardinal-elector in a papal conclave.[10] During the conclave Cleemis was one of the four cardinal-electors from outside the Latin Church who wore different vestments, proper to their respective churches. The others were Coptic Catholic Patriarch-Emeritus Antonios Naguib, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, and Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop George Alencherry.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Cardinal electors – Conclave of March 2013 – Arranged in alphabetical order". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Conclave of March 2013". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Cardinal electors arranged by age". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Annuncio di Concistoro per la Creazione di Sei Nuovi Cardinali" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 23 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b Procession and entrance in Conclave on YouTube
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Accessed 28 May 2014; Accessed 28 May 2014
  8. ^ Valente, Gianni (27 October 2012). "The Glocal Cardinal". Vatican Insider. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis left for Rome". Malankara Catholic News. 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Cyril Baselios
Major Archbishop of Trivandrum
2007 – present