Archbishop George Alencherry elevated to cardinal

Published 09 January 2012  |  
Archbishop Mar George Alencherry has been elevated to the status of a cardinal, according to an announcement by the Vatican last week.

A native of Kerala, Archbishop Alencherry was one of the 22 new cardinals announced by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday.

The formal anointing of Alencherry, who is the current head of the Syro Malabar Church, will take place in Rome on February 18.

Alencherry becomes the eleventh Indian and fourth Syro Malabar prelate to become a cardinal. The three others from Kerala who have in the past been elevated as cardinals are Joseph Parekkattil (in 1969), Antony Padiyara (in 1988) and Varkey Vithayathil (in 2001).

Currently, there are two cardinals from India, one being Ranchi Archbishop Telespor Toppo and Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Gracias.

Archbishop Alencherry said his appointment was a recognition for the country and the Syro Malabar Church.

The new cardinals include two clerics from Asia - Mar George Alencherry and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong. Eighteen of the cardinals are under the age of 80 and will have a vote in the conclave to elect the next pope.

Alencherry, 66, was born in the parish of Thuruthy in the archdiocese of Changanacherry. He began his priestly formation in 1961 at the archdiocesan minor seminary at Parel, Changanacherry.

Mar Alencherry was the first bishop when the diocese of Thuckalay was established in November 1996.

The cardinal-designate was elected the spiritual leader of the more than 4 million Syro Malabar faithful in 2011.

He was the first elected head of the church and succeeded Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil who died last year.

The Syro Malabar Church is one of the 22 eastern churches under the Vatican.

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