Varkey Vithayathil

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Varkey Vithayathil
ܡܸܛܪܵܦܘܿܠܝܼܛܵܐ ܘܬܲܪܐ ܕܟܠ ܗܸܢܕܘܿ ܡܵܪܲܢ ܡܵܪܝ ܓܝܼܘܲܪܓܝܼܣ ܡܸܛܪܵܦܘܿܠܝܼܛܵܐ
Head of Syro-Malabar Church
Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.jpg
PredecessorAntony Padiyara
SuccessorGeorge Alencherry
Other post(s)Apostolic Administrator of the Benedictine Monastery in Bangalore (1990–1996)
Cardinal-Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme
Ordination12 June 1954
Consecration17 January 1997
Created cardinal21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal-Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme
Personal details
Born(1927-05-29)29 May 1927
Died1 April 2011(2011-04-01) (aged 83)
Ernakulam, Kerala, India
DenominationSyro-Malabar Catholic Church
ParentsMr. Joseph Vithayathil
Mrs. Thresiamma Manadan

Varkey Vithayathil (29 May 1927 – 1 April 2011) was an Indian cardinal, served as Head and Father of Syro Malabar Church and Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly. He was also a religious priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.[1]

Early life and ordination[edit]

Born to Joseph Vithayathil and Thresiamma Manadan in North Parur, Travancore, he became a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), a religious congregation founded by Alphonsus Ligouri in 1732. He was ordained as a priest on 12 June 1954. He was granted a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome on The Origin and Progress of the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy. He taught for 25 years at the Redemptorist seminary in Bangalore. In 1972 he took his master's degree in philosophy from Karnataka University. He also taught different subjects in several other seminaries in Bangalore.

Provincial Superior[edit]

From 1978 to 1984 he was the Provincial Superior of the Redemptorist Provinces of India and Sri Lanka.[2] Then, from 1984 to 1985 he was President of the India Conference of Religious. In 1990, he was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the Asirvanam Benedictine Monastery in Bangalore by Pope John Paul II.

Metropolitan and Gate of all India[edit]

He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly on 11 November 1996 and was consecrated a bishop on 6 January 1997. Pope John Paul II appointed him as the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and Head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, on 23 December 1999. In February 2008 he was elected President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India[3] and held the presidency from 19 February 2008 to 3 March 2010.


Pope John Paul II appointed Varkey Vithayathil a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals on 21 January 2001, and raised him to that dignity at the Consistory of 21 February 2001 becoming Cardinal-Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Sacerdotal golden jubilee[edit]

The sacerdotal golden jubilee of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil was celebrated under the auspices of the Syro-Malabar church on 8 November 2003. The jubilee was inaugurated on 12 June 2003 and was concluded on 12 June 2004.

Arms of Cardinal Vithayathil
Varkey Vithayathil former Major Archbishop


Fifth Marian dogma[edit]

Varkey Vithayathil 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.[4]


He died suddenly from a massive heart attack on 1 April 2011. He had suffered from prolonged heart problems for some time and died about 2:00 pm of sudden and irreversible cardiac arrest from the heart attack at Lisie Hospital in Ernakulam, where he had been hurriedly taken after fainting while celebrating Mass at noon in his chapel in the Major Archbishop's house, in Ernakulam.[5] The funeral was held on 10 April 2011 at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulam.[6][7]


  • The Origin and Progress of the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy, Thesis, Angelicum, 1959. Published: Oriental Institute of Religious Studies, India, 1980.
  • Straight From the Heart, autobiography and opinions in the form of an extended interview, 2009.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Annuaro Pontificio per l'anno 2010. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2010. pp. 95*, 1441.
  2. ^ ""Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, C.SS.R.", Scala, April 1, 2011". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Cardinal Vithayathil elected new president of Indian bishops". AsiaNews. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  4. ^ 5th Dogma a Marian Antidote
  5. ^ Indian Catholic News Archived 4 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine Radio Vatican Archived 21 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Bosco Puthur: Announcement of the funeral of Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil Circular (in Malayalam) Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Bosco Puthur: Circular (in Malayalam) on the concluding of the funeral of Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, 18 April 2011.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Major Archbishop of Ernakulam
Succeeded by