Thrissur,Kerala, Feb 13:For the first time in the two-millennia history of the Church, five cardinals from India have qualified to attend the conclave and vote for electing the Pope. They will participate in the conclave at the Vatican in the 'Holy Week' beginning from March 24 and vote to elect the next pope.
Only 117 of the total of 206 cardinals of the Universal Catholic Church will be eligible to vote in the conclave to elect the 266th successor of St. Peter as they are below the age of 80 years, deputy secretary general and spokesman of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council Fr Stephen Alathara said.
"This is perhaps the first time in the two-millennia history of the Church that five cardinals from India have qualified to attend the conclave and vote for electing the Pope," Alathara said.
They are: Telesphore Toppo (Archbishop of Patna), Oswald Gracias(Archbishop of Mumbai), Mar George Alenchery and Mar Baselios Cleemis, heads of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches and Ivan Dias ( Roman Curia), former Archbishop of Mumbai, he added.
The maximum strength of the College of Cardinals, with the right to vote, was fixed as 120, he added.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday,Pope Benedict XVI who made his first public appearance after announcing his resignation said that he was resigning"for the good of the Church", also owing to his declining spiritual and physical strength.
The Pope was cheered by crowds as he entered and began speaking, at a weekly audience in a hall at the Vatican. He said he was aware of the gravity of his decision to resign but also of his declining strength, adding that he was certain the Church would sustain him with prayer.
Oneindia news. (With inputs from PTI)