Bishop Raphael Thattil (Photo: UCAN)

By UCA News reporter

Jan 11 2024

INDIA – India’s Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church has elected Bishop Raphael Thattil of Shamshabad diocese as its Major Archbishop amid the raging liturgy dispute that led to a serious division within the Church.

The election of the new head of the Church based in southern Kerala state was announced at a press conference held at Mount St. Thomas, its headquarters in  Ernakulam district, on Jan 10.

Bishop Thattil, 67, will assume his office on Jan 11.

His election was necessitated following the resignation of the previous head, Cardinal George Alencherry, on Dec 7, 2023.

Bishop Thattil in his brief address stressed the need for unity among members of the Church asserting that “my new role is to work with you.”

The prelate also said, “A bishop is not a personal property but a public property. My duty is to be with you. Let us work together. The shortcomings of one need to be rectified by the other.”

He called for mutual cooperation from bishops, priests, and laity among others.

The priest also said that his style of functioning will involve “taking everyone into account” and added, “God will provide the required strength” to carry on with his new assignment in a very challenging time.

The new archbishop was the bishop of the Diocese of Shamshabad, one of the largest in the country spanning 22 states, since 2018.

Earlier, he was the auxiliary bishop of Trichur Archdiocese in Kerala state which is also his home diocese.

He was born as the last of 10 children on Apr 21, 1956, in Thrissur. He did his schooling at the local St Thomas College High School and joined St Mary’s Minor Seminary, Thope in 1971.

He did his ecclesiastical studies in St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, and was ordained a priest by Mar Joseph Kundukulam on Dec 21, 1980.

Accepting the new post, Thattil told the gathering that he remains the same “Thattil achan (Thattil priest), Thattil pitav (Thattil bishop), and the journey will continue.” – UCA News