Kochi: In a significant development, Pope Francis has appointed Jacob Manathodath, Bishop of Palakkad diocese, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese replacing Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alenchery from the position of apostolic administrator. Cardinal Alenchery, however, will continue as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.
The decision, seen as a direct intervention in the affairs of the Syro-Malabar Church in the wake of the controversial land deals, was announced simultaneously in Rome and the Syro-Malabar Church headquarters in Kochi on Friday. It is also seen as a culmination of the disputes plaguing the Syro-Malabar Church for the past few months with deep fissures amongst the priests and the laity. Bishop Manathodath has been entrusted with the administrative powers even as Sebastian Adayanthrath and Jose Puthenveetil would continue as auxiliary bishops.
The functioning of the existing consultative committee, presbyterian council, pastoral council and financial council will be suspended with the appointment of the new apostolic administrator. He will also continue as the Bishop of Palakkad diocese. Bishop Manathodath has been given the powers to either restructure or make changes in these bodies, a release issued by the Syro-Malabar Church said.
The new apostolic administrator will take charge on Saturday in the presence of Vatican representative in Ernakulam at St. Mary’s Basilica Church. Born at Kodamthurthu near Angamaly in 1947, he was ordained as a priest in 1972. During his career, bishop Manathodath has held various administrative positions in the Syro-Malabar Church. He is also a member of the health commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.