Mar Varkey Vithayathil (Cardinal)
Title Major Archbishop of the
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

Mar Varkey Vithayathil (born 29 May 1927) is an Indian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, serving as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. He is also a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Varkey vithayathil

Mar Varkey Vithayathil, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, India.

Vithayathil cardinal coa

Coat of arms of Cardinal Vithayathil, church of San Bernardo alle Terme, Rome.

Early life and ordination

Born in Parur, India, he became a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), a religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, founded by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri in 1732. He was ordained as a priest in 1954. He holds a doctorate in Canon law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome and taught for 25 years at the Redemptorist seminary in Bangalore.

Provincial Superior

From 1978 to 1984 he was Provincial Superior of the Redemptorist provinces in India and Sri Lanka, from 1984 to 1985 he was President of the India Conference of Religious, and from 1990 to 1996 he was Apostolic Administrator of the Asirvanam Benedictine Monastery in Bangalore.


He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly on 11 November 1996 and was ordained bishop on 6 January 1997, taking the archiepiscopal titular see of Ohrid. A year later his titular see was transferred to Ckeikh-Abadeh, but he remained the administrator of the vacant Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. Pope John Paul II appointed Mar Vithayathil the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly for Syro-Malabars on 18 December 1999, and Cardinal Priest of Titulus S. Bernardi ad Thermas on February 21, 2001. As Major Archbishop, he also serves as the President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.


Mar Vithayathil was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. In February 2008 he was elected the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.[1]


Fifth marian dogma

Cardinal Vithayathil has supported proposals to solemnly proclaim a fifth marian dogma on the co-redemption and mediation of graces, saying it would be beneficial to the Church and that it would have positive ecumenical effects. [2]

Questioning Papal Authority and Deviation towards Antioch

In 2006, Vithayathil questioned the authority of the Bishop of Rome on other bishops and its Petrine primacy. He said, "What is the authority of Rome? On what basis, Rome is appointing bishops all over the world? From where it has got all these powers? In the first centuries, there was a dispute between Rome and Antioch, who is head and superior." [3][clarification needed]}

Indian politics

In 2009, Cardinal Vithayathil was reported as saying that the BJP is a “lesser evil” compared to the Marxists. The cardinal, while speaking after the release of his biography, asserted that “the greater threat will certainly be the Marxist one, because it is much better to live under those who believe in a God of love and mercy than to live under those who don’t believe in God and will do anything to bring about social justice, social equality and destroy all differences of class and caste.” [4] His comments also sparked fierce criticism from Muslims, who view the BJP's Hindutva ideology as a threat to their civil rights and are concerned by its alliance with the far-right Shiv Sena party, which has been implicated in communal violence against Muslims, homosexuals, and other minority groups in Mumbai.

External links


Preceded by
Antony Padiyara
Major Archbishop of Ernakulam
Succeeded by
la:Varkey Vithayathil

ml:വര്‍ക്കി വിതയത്തില്‍ no:Varkey Vithayathilpt:Varkey Vithayathil ru:Витхаятхил, Варкай

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