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New Syro-Malabar leader pleads for unity

Appeals to other Catholics to forget their past rivalries and work together

New leader speaks at the installation New leader speaks at the installation
  • Jose Kavi, Kochi
  • India
  • May 30, 2011
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The new head of the Syro-Malabar Church has urged India’s three Catholic rites to forget their past rivalries and work anew for unity.

“We might have competed with each other and done things in the past that were not proper because of our differences of opinion. Let us forget them and look ahead with hope,” Major Archbishop George Alencherry said at a ceremony yesterday to install him as the third major archbishop of the larger of India’s two Catholic Oriental rites.

He made the same appeal to his own Church people who are divided because of liturgical and administrative disputes.

“God is willing to forgive our past mistakes and sins. Let us accept God’s mercy,” the major archbishop told the gathering comprising all bishops from his Church as well as heads of Latin and Syro-Malabar Churches in India.

‘We have nothing to fear because God is with us. Let us look forward and work together for the welfare of our people and society,” he said.

He said he has chosen as his motto “service in dialogue of truth and love” to give a new thrust to the efforts of Church unity.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, heads of India’s Latin and Syro-Malabar churches and bishops from the two factions of the Orthodox Church attended the program at St. Mary’s Basilica in Kochi, the seat of the major archbishop.

Archbishop Pennacchio read the papal message that noted as historic the installation of the first elected leader.

The pontiff asked the new leader to provide “generous and fruitful pastoral leadership” to his people.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in his message urged the new major archbishop to help foster unity in the Church in India.

Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo, president of the Catholic Conference of Bishops of India, Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis, Catholics of the Syro-Malabar Church and bishop representatives from the two factions of India’s Orthodox Church also attended the ceremonies.

Latin rite bishops of Kerala could not attend the ceremonies as they are away in Rome for an ad limina visit.

Bishop Bosco Puthur, administrator of the Syro-Malabar Church, led the installation ceremonies.

The new leader recited the Nicene Creed and pledged his obedience and allegiance to the Pope and the Universal Church.

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Syro-Malabar Church elects new head

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