Historic Shift: Mar Raphael Thattil Elected Syro-Malabar Church’s Fourth Major Archbishop

Simultaneous Vatican Announcement Marks a New Era in Church Leadership and Adaptability

For the Syro-Malabar Church, the election of Mar Raphael Thattil, the bishop of Shamshabad Diocese, as the Major Archbishop marks a significant turning point in history. This historic declaration, simultaneously made in the Vatican and at St. Thomas Mount in Kakkanad, marks a historic shift in the Church’s leadership.

Election and Succession
Mar Raphael emerged as the chosen leader during the Synod conference at St. Thomas Mount. He is expected to become the fourth Major Archbishop in the history of the Church. After receiving Vatican sanction, the election was officially announced in response to Cardinal Mar George Alencheri’s resignation. This election serves as a reminder of the careful and democratic method the Syro-Malabar Church uses to choose its leaders.

Leadership and Background
Born on April 21, 1956, Mar Raphael Thattil travelled from the Diocese of Thrissur to Shamshabad with a great sense of dedication and devotion. On December 21, 1980, after completing his priestly training at St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Thrissur and St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Vadavathur, he was ordained into the Thrissur Diocese.

Mar Raphael had a number of positions over the years, such as Acting Vicar in Koonammuchi and Cherumkuzhi Churches, Father Prefect, Vice Rector, and Precurator in Thrissur Minor Seminary, and Assistant Vicar in Aranatukara Church. His pursuit of greater learning paid off, as he was able to improve his role in diocesan administration by earning a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.

Mar Raphael was named the Thrissur Archdiocese’s Auxiliary Bishop in 2010. Serving as the Apostolic Visitor since 2014, he is in charge of about 200,000 diaspora residents who reside in about 100 mission centres beyond the Syro-Malabar Church’s authority in India. He was appointed Bishop of the Shamshabad Diocese in 2018, which encompasses two islands, twenty-three states, and two Union Territories. He is an experienced leader because of his wide range of experiences and long tenure in the Church.

Synod Process and Voting
The election process at the Synod involved the participation of 53 eligible bishops, with those under the age of 80 having the right to vote. This careful selection process, governed by specific rules, ensures that the Major Archbishop is chosen with a substantial mandate. The rule requiring a two-thirds majority for victory emphasizes the consensus-driven nature of the Syro-Malabar Church’s leadership selection.

Historical Significance
Mar Raphael’s election holds historical significance, not only for being the fourth Major Archbishop but also as the first bishop of Shamshabad Diocese. This dual distinction highlights the evolving dynamics within the Church and its adaptability to changing circumstances. The Syro-Malabar Church, deeply rooted in history, is now embracing a new chapter under Mar Raphael’s leadership.

Challenges and Future Path
Taking on the role of Major Archbishop, Mar Raphael Thattil will have to guide the Syro-Malabar Church through modern challenges while preserving the authenticity of its traditions and beliefs. Given its lengthy history, the Church turns to its leaders for direction in meeting the practical and spiritual needs of its adherents. The guidance of Mar Raphael will be essential in overcoming these obstacles and promoting harmony inside the Church.

The Syro-Malabar Church embarks upon a new chapter in its history with the appointment of Mar Raphael Thattil to the position of Major Archbishop. The democratic and open election process is a reflection of the Church’s leadership’s dedication to both continuity and change. The Syro-Malabar Church will follow a different course in the future due to Mar Raphael’s vision and management approach, which will uphold the Church’s heritage while addressing contemporary issues. The announcement of this election signifies more than just a shift in the Church’s leadership; it also represents the Church’s continuous development as a tradition-rich but dynamic institution.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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