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George Alencherry is Major Archbishop

Staff Reporter



George Alencherry

KOCHI: George Alencherry, currently bishop of Thuckalay in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari district, has been elected the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese. He succeeds Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, who passed away on April 1.

The election of Bishop Alencherry was announced by bishops Mathew Vellanikkal and Bosco Puthur at St. Thomas Mount, Kakkanad, the headquarters of the Syro-Malabar Church on Thursday, at the end of a synod of the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church that began on Monday.

He will be installed on Sunday afternoon at a solemn Mass at the St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica. Major Church dignitaries, including Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to India, will be present at the installation.

Bishop Alencherry is the first Major Archbishop to be elected by the synod on its own after the Syro-Malabar Church, with around four million members, was granted the Archiepiscopal status, said a handout issued after the announcement of his election. His predecessors Cardinals Antoney Padiyara and Varkey Vithayathil were appointed by the Pope.

Bishop Alencherry was born at Thuruthy, near Changanasserry, in1945 as the sixth of a family of 10 children and was given the name Geevarghese at baptism.

He completed his philosophical and theological studies at St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminari, Aluva, and was ordained in 1972. He was appointed director of the Pastoral Orientation Centre in the city in 1986. He took over as the first bishop of Thuckalay in 1997.

The election of the new Major Archbishop was announced at the Vatican and at Mount St. Thomas simultaneously, Indian time 3.30 p.m. The Papal approval of the election of the new Major Archbishop was announced by Bishop George Valiamattam, who presided at the synod meeting.

After the papal approval was announced Bishop Alencherry made his oath of fidelity and communion with the College of Bishops and the Church. Bishop Puthur then garlanded the Major Archbishop-elect and presented him a bouquet of flowers.

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