Cardinal George Alencherry steps down after 12 years at helm of Syro-Malabar Church

A file photograph of Cardinal Mar George Alencherry. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, who was embroiled in controversies over alleged irregularities in the sale of properties belonging to Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, has stepped down as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Alencherry had been the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church since May 29, 2011.

Addressing the media in Kochi on Thursday, Cardinal Alencherry said Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has accepted his proposal to resign from the post and that he would step down with immediate effect.

Alencherry said that though he had requested the Pope to relieve him from the Archbishop's responsibilities as early as July 19, 2019, the Synod had vetoed it. "My decision had been based on my health condition and the growing pastoral needs of our Church," Alencherry said.

According to the Archbishop, he sent out a second request to the Pope on November 15, 2022, which was accepted after a year.

Upon his resignation, Alencherry said he would continue as administrator for the time being. However, as per the latest release from the Church, Curia Bishop Sebastian Vaniyapurackal has taken charge as the administrator.

Mar Vaniyapurackal's appointment, the Church said, was based on the Canon Code 127 of the Eastern Churches which says that "unless particular law determines otherwise, during a vacancy of the patriarchal see, the administrator of the patriarchal Church is the senior bishop according to episcopal ordination among the bishops of the patriarchal curia or, if there are not any, among the bishops who are members of the permanent synod".

In this file photograph from 2011, Bishop Bosco Puthoor (right) congratulates Cardinal George Alencherry after being appointed the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. File photo: Manorama

Bosco Puthoor new Apostolic Administrator
Former Bishop of Melbourne Diocese, Mar Bosco Puthoor, has been appointed the new Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese. He replaces Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, who has been serving as the apostolic administrator since July 30, 2022.

Bishop Puthoor resigned from his post at the Melbourne Diocese on May 31, 2023. Since then he has served as convenor of a Dialogue Committee constituted by the bishops' synod of the Syro-Malabar Church to resolve the issues raging in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

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