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Former Orthodox bishop in India granted “venerable” title

Geevarghese Thomas Panickaruveetil Mar Ivanios

Angelo johns - CC BY-SA 4.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/19/24

Geevarghese Thomas Panickaruveetil was a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Malankarese Church, but later converted to the Catholic Church.

Born in Kerala, India, Geevarghese Thomas Panickaruveetil was raised in the Syro-Orthodox Malankarese Church. He felt a calling to the priesthood and entered the Orthodox seminary of Kottayam in 1897, and was ordained a priest on August 15, 1908.

According to the Vatican biography of his life, when he was serving as a professor, Panickaruveetil was “deeply tormented by the continuous internal divisions of his Church.”

Then, “through a profound reflection and the study of the sources, he believed that only an authentic monastic movement could renew the Church.”

He then founded monastic orders and was ordained a bishop of the Syro-Orthodox Malankarese Church.

In 1926, he was appointed as a delegate to further dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. It was through this dialogue that he “remained convinced of the need for communion with the Church of Rome and, together with the Bishop of Tiruvalla, Mar Theophilos, continued in this work. The two Bishops were welcomed in communion with the Catholic Church on July 4, 1930, maintaining their episcopal dignity, ecclesiastical power and the Syro-Western rite.”

For the next 23 years he was “a pioneer of ecumenism in India. As the first bishop of the Sirio-Malankarese Catholic Church, he faced many internal and external difficulties, also hampered by the government stirred up by the followers of the Jacobite Church.”

He died on July 15, 1953, and was highly regarded as a saint by those who knew him well.

Pope Francis recognized his “heroic virtues” on March 14, 2024, and granted him the title of “venerable.

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