Lieutenant Governor Virendra Kataria, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, Lok Sabha MP R. Radhakrishnan, Rajya Sabha MP P. Kannan and leaders of political parties were among those who paid last respects to Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy, whose mortal remains were brought to Puducherry on Saturday night.
Archbishop Antony Anandarayar of the Pondicherry and Cuddalore Diocese led the prayers.
The body will be placed at the Escande Hall in Petit Seminaire Higher Secondary School till Monday morning to enable people to pay their respects.
The funeral service will be held around 9 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio of India and Nepal (Papal Ambassador), His Excellency Salvatore Pennacchio. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, Major Archbishop Mar George Cardinal Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, and Archbishop Philip Neri, vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, are expected to attend. Around 20 bishops, 300 priests and 500 sisters are expected to join hundreds of devotees in the funeral.
The late Cardinal and his brother Father Amalorpavadass were instrumental in the implementation of Vatican II Council reforms in India, said Archbishop Anandarayar. Cardinal Lourdusamy also holds the unique distinction of obtaining 100 per cent in all his exams in Canon Law studies.
The Vatican II Council reforms ushered in new thinking and helped localise customs of the Roman Catholic Church, said Father Albert Thambidurai, director, Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society. “Through his work, he became a bridge between Rome and India,” he said. Cardinal Lourdusamy will be the first person to be buried inside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, to “honour his contribution to the church and the people,” added Father Thambidurai.
A special mass was also held at the Vatican Basilica on June 5, presided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.