Friday, September 26, 2008

Major Arch Bishop MAR Varkey Vithayathil

Varkey Vithayathil (born 29 May 1927) is a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, serving as the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars in India. He is also a member of The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Born in Parur, India, he became a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), a religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, founded by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri in 1732. Vithayathil was ordained as a priest in 1954. He holds a doctorate in Canon law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome and taught for 25 years at the Redemptorist seminary in Bangalore.

From 1978 to 1984 he was Provincial of the Redemptorist provinces in India and Sri Lanka, from 1984 to 1985 he was President of the India Conference of Religious, and from 1990 to 1996 he was Apostolic Administrator of the Asirvanam Benedictine Monastery in Bangalore.

He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly on 11 November 1996 and was ordained bishop on 6 January 1997, taking the archiepiscopal titular see of Ohrid. A year later his titular see was transferred to Ckeikh-Abadeh, but he remained the administrator of the vacant Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. Pope John Paul II finally appointed Vithayathil the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly for Syro-Malabars on 18 December 1999, and Cardinal Priest of Titulus S. Bernardi ad Thermas on February 21, 2001. As Major Archbishop, he also serves as the President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.

Vithayathil was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. In February 2008 he was elected head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.[1]

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