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WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has erected an Apostolic Exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States and appointed Father Thomas Naickamparampil as its first bishop. The pope also appointed him Apostolic Visitator for the Syro-Malankara Catholics in Canada and Europe.
The erection of the exarchate and appointments were publicized in Washington, July 14, by Msgr. Jean-François Lantheaume, Chargé d’Affaires, at the apostolic nunciature in the United States.
Father Naickamparampil is a priest of the Major Archiepiscopal Eparchy of Trivandrum, India.
An apostolic exarchate is the Eastern Catholic Church equivalent of an apostolic vicariate. It is not a full-fledged eparchy (diocese), but is established by the Holy See for the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in an area outside the territory of the Eastern Catholic Church to which they belong. It is headed by a bishop or a priest with the title of Exarch.
An apostolic visitator is a papal representative who has been asked to familiarize himself with the situation of a given community and to report on its status to the Holy See.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is centered in southern India where it has eight eparchies (dioceses) and about 500,000 faithful. It is headed by His Beatitude Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, who resides in the city of Trivandrum. It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 Syro-Malankara Catholics in the United States and Canada.
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