UCA News
Contribute

Catholics welcome India's first Dalit cardinal

Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad is the first Dalit Christian in India to get the title

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman (left) and Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman (left) and Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad. (Photos supplied)

Published: May 30, 2022 04:35 AM GMT

Updated: May 30, 2022 05:44 AM GMT

Catholics in India have welcomed the Vatican announcement about the appointment of the first Dalit as a cardinal.

The elevation of Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad among 21 new cardinals created by Pope Francis was announced on May 29.

Another Indian prelate, Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastao di Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Daman, is also to become a cardinal.

Ucan Store
Ucan Store

“It is a proud moment for all Indians irrespective of their caste and creed,” Franklin Caesar Thomas, coordinator of the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC), told UCA News.

Archbishop Poola’s elevation comes after decades of protests by Dalit Catholic groups seeking the appointment of their community people to “greater servanthood.” There was also a demand for an Indian Dalit rite in the Catholic Church.

The protests had grown shriller with a group of Dalit Catholics in the southern state of Tamil Nadu objecting to the installation of a non-Dalit archbishop for Pondicherry-Cuddalore Archdiocese.

Archbishop Poola will also now be part of the College of Cardinals, which comprises 229 cardinals, of whom 131 are electors of the pope. 

The Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) organized street protests against the appointment of Bishop Francis Kalist of Meerut as the metropolitan archbishop of Pondicherry-Cuddalore in March.

Archbishop Poola will be the first Dalit and also “the first Telugu [native of Andhra Pradesh state] in the history of the Catholic Church to be appointed as cardinal, the second biggest title after pope,” Father S. Bernard, vicar general of Hyderabad, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times on May 30.

Father Bernard further called it “an honor and recognition for the oppressed sections of Christianity.”

It is a proud moment for the Archdiocese of Hyderabad and for the Telugu-speaking people, Father T. Victor Emmanuel, procurator and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad, said on May 29.

Archbishop Poola will also now be part of the College of Cardinals, which comprises 229 cardinals, of whom 131 are electors of the pope. 

Archbishop Poola was born in Chindhukur, Andhra Pradesh, on Nov. 15, 1961. He joined the minor seminary in Kurnool and then studied at St. Peter’s Pontifical Major Seminary in Bangalore.

He was ordained a priest on Feb. 20, 1992. He was 46 years old when appointed as the bishop of Kurnool on Feb. 8, 2008.

He was appointed as the archbishop of Hyderabad by Pope Francis on Nov. 19, 2020, and was installed as its 11th archbishop on Jan. 3, 2021.

He earlier served as assistant parish priest at Amagampalli and as parish priest at Tekurpet, Correspondent RCM Elementary Schools, Chinayarasal and Kappalapalli and Our Lady of Fatima Church, Badvel.

Archbishop Ferrao was appointed metropolitan archbishop of Goa and Daman and the patriarch ad honorem of the East Indies on Dec. 12, 2003

He was also director of St. Thomas Boarding Home, Badvel, director of Vander Valk Boy’s Boarding Home and resident priest at St. Joseph’s Church, Kalamazoo Diocese, USA.

He served as chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Social Service Society from 2008-20, secretary-general and treasurer of Telugu Catholic Bishops’ Conference (TCBC) from 2014-20, chairman of the Sikh Village Campus, Secretariat for TCBC Priests Community from 2014-20 and chairman of Jeevan in-state Printing Press from 2014-20.

Archbishop Ferrao was born on Jan. 20, 1953, in Aldona, Goa. He was ordained a priest on Oct. 28, 1979. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman at the age of 40 on Dec. 20, 1993. He was ordained a bishop on April 10, 1994, and assigned the titular see Vanariona.

He was appointed metropolitan archbishop of Goa and Daman and the patriarch ad honorem of the East Indies on Dec. 12, 2003.

He was installed as archbishop on March 21, 2004. He also served the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) as its vice-president. He is fluent in Konkani, English, Portuguese, Italian, French and German.

He was elected president of the CCBI at its 31st plenary assembly in Chennai in 2019.

He is a former chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) office of education and faith formation.

The 21 new cardinals — eight from Europe, six from Asia, two from Africa, one from North America and four from Central and Latin America — will be given their red caps by Pope Francis on Aug. 27.

comment

Share your comments

4 Comments on this Story
ANJANEYA REDDY
Why call him a Dalit Christian?
ANTONY RAJ. B
In India, Caste is inevitable and it is there in Indian Churches too!!!!
VIRAG PACHPORE
Does Christianity have a separate identity as DALIT CHRISTIAN? If so, then it is in direct contradiction with the Christianity of Jesus Christ. What do you think?
T.A.ANTONY.CMI
I t is insulting t o call somebody with the adjective dalith. Dalith cardinal dalith presidentetc.

Latest News

donateads_new
Ucanews Store
newlettersign

Read articles from La Croix International

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia