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New Major Archbishop elected for Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

CWN - May 26, 2011

India’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has elected a new leader. Bishop George Alencherry of Thuckalay, the secretary of the Syro-Malabar Synod, was elected on May 26 as Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly.

The new Major Archbishop—whose election was promptly recognized by Pope Benedict XVI—is the first leader of the vigorous Eastern Catholic community to be chosen by the Syro-Malabar Synod of Bishops. In 2004 the Vatican granted the Syro-Malabar Church the right to elect its own bishops, including the Major Archbishop. Earlier, in 1992, Pope John Paul II had elevated the leader of the Syro-Malabar Church to the title of Major Archbishop.

The Syro-Malabar Church, which traces its origins to the missionary work of St. Thomas the apostle, is centered in India’s Kerela state, and claims over 4 million faithful.

Major Archbishop-elect Alencherry succeeds Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, who died on April 1 at the age of 84 after a long battle with heart disease.

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