Kerala celebrates elevation of archbishop to cardinal.
He is one of the 22 cardinals announced by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican this week. The formal anointing of Alancherry as cardinal will take place at the Vatican on February 18.
Alancherry is the fourth cardinal from the state, and the third major archbishop to be elevated as cardinal from Kerala, not a small achievement for the Syro-Malabar Church which does not boast a large number of laity. Alancherry also becomes the third cardinal in India, the other two being Ranchi Archbishop Telespor Toppo and Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Gracious.
Alancherry is the sixth of ten children of Philippose and Mary Alancherry from the Thuruthi parish of Changanacherry archdiocese. As many as four of the siblings including George Alancherry took up full-time church work, with George and two of his brothers becoming priests and one of his elder sisters becoming a nun.
The three others from Kerala who have in the past been elevated as cardinals are Joseph Parekkattil (in 1969), Antony Padiyara (in 1988) and Varkey Vithayathil (in 2001).
Alancherry's elevation as cardinal was greeted by impromptu celebrations in different parts of the state, and Alancherry himself attended a simple dinner in his honour on Friday at the Archbishop's House in Ernakulam. The dinner was attended by federal minister K.V. Thomas and state ministers K.M. Mani and K. Babu.
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