Pope Francis on Friday approved the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church’s decision to name Bishop George Njaralakatt as the new archbishop for the Syro-Malabarese Archeparchy of Tellicherry. Archbishop Njaralakatt was appointed bishop of the city, now often known as Thalassery, on Aug. 29. The archbishop was born in 1946 in the village of Kalayanthany, more than 20 miles southeast of Kothamangalam, in India's Kerala state. He attended minor seminary at St. Joseph's in Thalassery 1963-65, and studied philosophy and theology at St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Aluva from 1965-1972. In 1971 he was ordained a priest for the Syro-Malabarese Archeparchy of Tellicherry, whither he has now returned as its bishop. Two years later he was incardinated into the Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Mananthavady. He later studied at Rome’s Salesian Pontifical University, where in 1986 he earned a licentiate in catechetics; and in 2007, he was incardinated into the Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Bhadravthi, in Karnataka state. In 2010, he was consecrated Bishop of the newly-established Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Mandya, also located in Karnataka. He remained there until his transfer to Thalassery. While the Mandya eparchy served some 5,000 Catholics, Archbishop Njaralakatt will now shepherd nearly 308,000 Catholics in the Thalassery area. These represent more than eight percent of the eparchy's totally population. The archbishop's mother tongue is Malayam, but he also speaks English, German, and Italian. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church which is headed by the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and which is based in Kerala. All but two of its dioceses are located in India: one for Indian expatriates in the U.S., and one for those in Australia. It is of the East Syrian rite, and is thus most closely related to the Chaldean Catholic Church. The Church elects its bishops through a synod, with its choices later approved by the Pope. This differs from the Latin-rite Church, where the Pope appoints all bishops directly. Archbishop Njaralakatt succeeds Archbishop George Valiamattam, 75. His Mass of Installation will be held Oct. 30.
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