Hyderabad Archbishop Anthony Poola to be first Dalit Cardinal

The consistory ceremony, held to elevate churchmen to the rank of Cardinal, is to be conducted by the Pope on August 27.
Bishop Anthony Poola
Bishop Anthony Poola
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Archbishop of Hyderabad Anthony Poola, who has been named as one among the new cardinals of the Catholic Church, is the first Telugu person and Dalit person in the history of the Catholic Church in India to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal. Pope Francis on Sunday, May 29, announced that he would be elevating 21 churchmen, including two from India, to the rank of Cardinal. The announcement was made in a ceremony at the Vatican this summer. The Pope said that he would conduct the consistory, which is the ceremony to elevate churchmen to cardinal's rank, on August 27.

"This is the first time in history that a Telugu Archbishop has been made a cardinal. This title as cardinal is really due to God's grace," Telugu Catholic Bishops' Council Deputy Secretary Joseph Arlagadda told PTI.  "Picking him (Anthony Poola) up for this job is a wonderful thing and a great honour. It's God's grace and his own dedication and commitment to the Church and his service. He has got very deep thoughts about the Church. He works hard and he is a committed servant of the Church," Joseph said and added that everybody from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are celebrating, as it's a great thing.

Sixty-year-old Anthony Poola, a native of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, was ordained as priest in February 1992 and appointed as Bishop of Kurnool in February 2008. He was appointed as Archbishop of Hyderabad in November 2020.

The other cardinal selected from India is Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao di Rosario Ferrao, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, on Sunday, congratulated Archbishop Ferrao on his elevation. "Heartiest congratulations to Most Rev. Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao on being chosen as one of the 21 Cardinals by His Holiness @Pontifex," Sawant said in a tweet.

Born in Aldona village near Panaji on January 20, 1953, Ferrao has been heading the local Church since 2003. As per a senior official in Archbishop's Palace, 69-year-old Fr Ferrao had begun his religious studies in the Seminary of Our Lady in Saligao and then went to the Papal Seminary in Pune. He graduated in philosophy and theology and is fluent in Konkani, English, Portuguese, Italian, French and German languages.

He was ordained as a priest on October 28, 1979 and on December 12, 2003 he was consecrated as Archbishop of Goa and Daman by Pope John Paul II, upon the resignation of then Archbishop Rev Fr Raul Goncalves.

Senior journalist Camil Parkhe said that the Pope's announcement made on Sunday is a “great honour for the Indian Christian community”, and is also an acknowledgement of the presence of a significant number of Church institutions in this country as well as the role the Indian Church has to play in the Universal Catholic Church.

"This will be the first cardinal from Goa, which has a history of 450 years of Christianity, and may be the first from Hyderabad (in Telangana) as well. The number of cardinals in the Catholic Church should be increased in proportion to the community's population in a country. This will facilitate the election of an Indian as Pope in the future," Parkhe said.

The Pope already had Cardinal Oswald Gracias as one of his advisers and the appointment of two more cardinals from India in the College of Cardinals will be welcomed by the faithful in the country, he said.

As per the Papal announcement, among the churchmen set to receive the prestigious red hat will be two prelates from India and one each from Mongolia, Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay, and Brazil.

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