Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has praised the Catholic Church in India. Speaking on the BBC Sunday Programme about his recent visit to India, in which he retraced Pope John Paul II's historic visit 25 years ago, he said: "India is the most fascinating country. What struck me most was the respect for religion."
Cardinal Cormac said: "John Paul's visit had a huge impact at the time. I spoke mostly on the themes he had spoken on himself. I spoke on the family; young people, tribal issues, the Holy Eucharist and inter-religious dialogue."
"What struck me was what an extraordinary brave and courageous man he was. I was in India for ten days and was very tired at the end of it. Pope John Paul went all over the world with huge crowds - proclaiming his belief in Jesus Christ - an apostle of the Gospel. I remember him saying that I want to be in every country; in every home. He was an extraordinary man. My visit made me reflect that he was also a man with enormous faith; enormous stamina to undergo these great visits, but also an apostle who wished to put his belief before the world."
25 years ago, Pope John Paul II said to the Indian Catholic Church - 'you are a very tiny minority, but you are important - you have a very special part to play in this country with its myriad number of religions. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said teh Church in India today is "confident and vibrant."
The Cardinal praised the Indian Catholic Church's distinctive liturgy and customs. "Wherever I went I was garlanded and the crowds were enormously enthusiastic. It was very moving."
Praising Pope John Paul II, he said: "Five years since his death; I don't think it's too early. Pope John Paul II should be beatified; his life was so courageous, so holy. He was such an example to the world."