Cardinal Mar George Alencherry has called for preferential treatment for Dalit Christians, emphasising that though no caste differences exist among Christians, in India there is economic inequality.

Mar Alencherry, who was elevated as Cardinal on Saturday, told the Catholic agency Ucanews in an interview in Rome recently that the government should reverse its policy of not providing preferential treatment to people from lower castes who converted to Christianity. The official reason for the government stand is that there is no caste difference in Christianity. But economic inequalities persist.

The Cardinal said that though Catholics formed just less than two per cent of India's population, its strong faith had a message for the whole Church.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Syro-Malabar Church here on Monday said the Cardinal was accorded a reception by the Syro-Malabar Church community in Rome on Sunday. The Cardinal said the aim of his service was to make everyone happy. He would take special care to see that his shortcomings did not take anything away from the happiness of others.

The Cardinal reminded the large gathering what Pope Benedict XVI said during the Mass on Sunday. The Pope had said that the raising of the Cardinals was a recognition for the countries from which the ‘Princes of the Church' hailed. The Cardinal said that his being raised to a Cardinal was a recognition for the cultural heritage of India and the tradition of the Church in the country.

The Cardinal thanked the Indian government for sending a large delegation to the consistory on Saturday where 22 new Cardinals were appointed by the Pope.

The Indian delegation was led by the Union Minister of State for Food K.V. Thomas. Members of Parliament Anto Antoney, Jose K. Mani, and P.T. Thomas, and Minister for Water Resources P.J. Joseph were among those present in Rome for the consistory.