08/31/2010, 00.00
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Andhra Pradesh mourns its "Bishop of the people"

Mgr. Joji Marampudi’s commitment to the promotion of the underprivileged and his organizational ability recalled at funeral. He left all he had to his diocese and successor.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Tireless in his commitment to the promotion of the underprivileged and service to the Church in Andhra Pradesh to which he gifted his organizational ability and his loyalty. Mgr Marampudi Joji, archbishop of Hyderabad, who died Aug. 27, was remembered in these terms, yesterday, during his funeral by the president of the bishops of the state, Mgr. Gali Bali.

The late bishop left all of his earthly possessions to his Church and his successor. "I did not bring anything in this world - he wrote in his will - and I leave without taking anything with me. Any tangible property, money, books, Episcopal insignia and whatever else was available to me during my life and that can be referred to me after my death, I leave the diocese and to my successor. "

Tens of thousands of people, including bishops, priests, leaders of Christian organizations, politicians and representatives of the social world paid homage, in the Cathedral of Vijayawada, to the "Bishop of the people", as the first Dalit archbishop in the history of India was known.

Born Oct. 7, 1942 at Bhimavaran (Andra Pradesh) into a Dalit family of ethnic Telugu, Mgr. Marampudi encountered Christianity through missionaries of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), the first to extend the Christian mission among the outcast of the Diocese of Hyderabad. Baptized by PIME fathers, he became a priest 14 December 1971 and in 2000 he was appointed archbishop of Hyderabad, the first Dalit to lead an archdiocese. He had previously been Bishop of Vijayawada. For over 30 years he has fought for the emancipation of outcasts in Indian society, in dialogue with the highest political and religious authorities.

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