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The Supreme Head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II,  passed away in the early hours of July 12. The 74-year-old patriarch, who was undergoing cancer treatment for nearly two years, had developed post-COVID complications and was on ventilator at the St Gregorios Medical Mission Hospital in Parumala, Kerala.

His mortal remains was shifted to the Parumala church for public homage from 6 am to 7 pm and thereafter to the church headquarters in Devalokam, Kottayam. The funeral will be held at Devalokam chapel on July 13, and he will be buried in the Devalokam campus thereafter.

Born on August 30, 1946 in Mangad village near Kunnamkulam in Kerala, he was named K.I. Paul. After graduating in Physics from St Thomas College, Thrissur, he joined the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam and obtained a theological degree from Serampore University, West Bengal. He also took an MA in Sociology from CMS College, Kottayam.

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He was ordained as a priest in 1973 and consecrated as bishop in 1985. He took the name Paulose Mar Milithios and was the first bishop of the newly formed Kunnamkulam diocese. In October 2006, he was made Catholicos Designate by the church parliament. Following the abdication of his predecessor His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymus I on account of ill-health, Milithios Metropolitan was enthroned on November 1, 2010 as the 91st Catholicos of the East and 21st Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Church with the name Baselios Marthoma Paulose II.

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is one of the ancient Christian churches in India which traces its historical roots and tradition to AD 52. The Orthodox Church is one of the three main Christian groups in the world, the others being Roman Catholic and Protestant. It is made up of a number of self-governing Churches such as the Indian one.

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It was during the late patriarch’s reign that the Supreme Court of India delivered the landmark judgment of July 3, 2017 clearing the long-standing dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite churches.

An unassuming and warm religious leader, he took a special interest in enhancing bilateral relations with heads of various Orthodox churches in other parts of the world such as the Ethiopian, Armenian, and Russian Orthodox churches, as well as with the Roman Catholic Church.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and leaders from various walks of life have condoled the death of the patriarch. Modi tweeted that the Metropolitan “leaves behind a rich legacy of service and compassion. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the members of the Orthodox Church.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Saddened by the passing of the supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, just four months after recovering from COVID-19. A man of infinite compassion and grace, he will be widely mourned. RIP.”

Playback singer KS Chitra remembered the special relationship she shared with His Holiness and how he had christened the cancer ward at the Parumala hospital after her late daughter Nandana.