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Parish in Kerala recalls Ratzinger's gesture

April 21, 2005 19:48 IST

Though Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has never visited Kerala, he struck a chord with the Catholic community in Alappuzha long before his elevation as Pope Benedict XVI, by contributing to build a church in this ancient port town of Kerala.

St Mary's Malankara Catholic Church at Chungam has a plaque bearing the name of Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich, for donating 20,000 Deutschmarks, which was about Rs 80,000 at that time, for building the church in 1980.

The members of the Catholic community were overjoyed when Ratzinger was chosen as successor to John Paul II, who had left a lasting impression in the minds of Catholics in Kerala during his 1986 visit.

It was in response to a letter by him that Ratzinger made the donation to elevate the chapel at Chungam into a parish, Kakkanattu said.

"The new Pope has great regard for India and its spiritual tradition. I was told that he used to say Indians have a special grace on their face," said Abraham Kakkanattu, who was instrumental in getting the donation from Ratzinger.

He added, "Pope Benedict XVI is very kind and from what I know he is keen on visiting India."

Kakkanattu met Ratzinger as a student of mass communication at the Winfried Wilehelm Unviversitae at West Fallen in Germany.

Also read:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected new Pope
New Pope's first blessing
New Pope - The complete coverage

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