Indian Church leaders mourn Kottayam archbishop’s death

Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnacherry died on June 14

By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: Catholic Church leaders in India have mourned the death of Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnacherry, who headed the Kottayam archdiocese in Kerala for more than three decades.

“Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnacherry leaves behind a legacy of a total loyalty to the Church, perfect commitment to those entrusted to his pastoral care, staunch advocacy of peace, harmony and unity among people of various denominations and different Religions,” says a condolence message from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

The message issued by Monsignor Joseph Chinnayyan, CBCI deputy secretary general, also hailed the late archbishop as “a dedicated shepherd after the model of the Good Shepherd.”

Archbishop Kunnacherry, retired archbishop of Kottayam, died June 14, at Caritas Hospital, Kottayam. He was 89. His body was brought to Christ the King Cathedral at 2.00 p.m. on June 16 where hundreds of people paid homage. The funeral is scheduled at 2 pm on June 17 at the cathedral church in Kottayam.

Archbishop Kunnacherry served Kottayam Syro-Malabar archdiocese as its shepherd for almost 32 years with dedication and zeal. He was a scholar, able administrator, a great visionary and a caring and loving pastor, the CBCI message says.

Monsignor Chinnayyan also noted that the late prelate was “quite active in pastoral ministry” even after his retirement in 2006.

Earlier, Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, hailed Archbishop Kunnacherry as the spiritual leader who won over the hearts of people. Archbishop Kunnacherry has played crucial role in the growth of the Oriental Church, the cardinal said in his condolence message on June 14.

The late prelate has helped take the Knanaya Catholic community to the global level, the cardinal noted. As the Kottayam archbishop and leader of the Knanaya Catholic community in the world, Archbishop Kunnacherry’s spiritual leadership had helped renew the pastoral care of his people as well as the growth of religious movements in the archdiocese, he added.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, CBCI president and head of the Syro-Malankara Church, said Archbishop Kunnacherry’s death was a great loss for the Indian Church. The late prelate, an expert on Oriental Canon Law, used his scholarship to protect the identity of the Oriental Churches, head of the Indian Catholic Church added.

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