01/14/2014, 00.00
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Card Alencherry: welcoming migrants is the mission of the new Eparchy of Melbourne

by Nirmala Carvalho
Pope Francis announced the first Syro-Malabar diocese in Australia, home to 35,000 members of the Syro-Malabar Church, mostly migrant workers. For the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, head of the Syro-Malabar Church (Kerala), the new eparchy is "required" for the development and integration of local communities into the Universal Church.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The new diocese is "required for the development of migrant communities from India and other countries in Australia," said His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Kerala), as he spoke to AsiaNews about the establishment of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne, the first diocese in Australia designed to serve Syro-Malabar Catholics.

Pope Francis announced its creation on 11 January, when he appointed Mgr Bosco Puthur as its bishop. The prelate will also be apostolic visitor for Syro-Malabar Catholics who live in New Zealand.

"More than 35,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics live in Australia," Card Alencherry told AsiaNews, "and they are all migrants. They need full integration, respectful of their own tradition. That is why we have created the new diocese."

The Universal Church, the cardinal said, "always takes care of migrants. At this time in history, a culture of coexistence is growing, which offers the Church a new horizon" to work with.

This way, a more stable structure "will be beneficial to the Universal church." In fact, "The Australian community is very understanding towards the problems of migrants and is very welcoming to them as well. Many of our people are already working with the Australian Church [. . .] and there is good cooperation".

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite Syriac Church established on India's Malabar Coast, which corresponds to the present-day Indian State of Kerala.

The See of the Major Archbishop is in Ernakulam-Angamaly and Mar George Alencherry is the present Major Archbishop. The Church has about 3.6 million members around the world community.

The new Australian diocese will be the second Syro-Malabar diocese outside of India. In 2001, the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle was created in Chicago.

The cathedral of the Eparchy of Melbourne will be dedicated to 'Holy Mary, Mother of God.'

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