His Holiness' funeral service will be held at the Catholicate Palace chapel in Devalokam, the headquarters of the Church in Kottayam, Kerala, on 13 July.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is a founding member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) since 1948 and one of the ancient Christian churches in India that traces its historical roots and tradition to A.D. 52 in Kerala.
His Holiness was ordained as a priest in 1973 and consecrated as one of the youngest bishops in 1985. He was serving as the bishop of Kunnamkulam when the Malankara Association elected him as the Catholicose of the East on 1 November 2010.
His Holiness implemented various programmes to help people in need, for instance, the Parumala Cancer Centre, set up at the cost of more than US $13 million, where free cancer treatment programme is available for the poor.
In a letter of condolence to the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca expressed deep sadness.
“We, representing the global ecumenical movement and the member churches of the WCC, mourn with you and the worldwide community of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church,” Sauca wrote. “His death is a great loss for all, but we, along with the global ecumenical movement join the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, to thank God and celebrate his remarkable life of service of God and humanity with his godliness, simplicity, transparency, honesty and courage.”
He was much loved for his unassuming and down-to-earth approach as a leader, Sauca continued. “His Holiness was accessible to and responded to people in their times of need,” Sauca wrote. “He was a great leader and a spiritual father who strengthened the diakonial response of the church, bringing much-needed help to the poor and the suffering.”
His Holiness was a humanitarian who was aware and sensitive to the social realities the world faces, and he stood up for social justice and equality, Sauca added. “His leadership in ensuring women equal participation in the church's administration and the community and in granting them voting rights along with their male counterparts in all church parishes has been very encouraging and inspiring to us,” Sauca wrote. “His Holiness was a symbol of the change who demanded mutual accountability from all of us."