Crown princes of the Goan soil


Karachi’s Joseph Coutts was among 14 new cardinals to be created from around the world on Thursday and when Pope Francis presented him with the red hat, he became the fifth person of Goan origin to be appointed to the cardinalate.

Coutts, 72, who traces his roots to Aldona and has a family home in Ucassaim, not only became the second cardinal to lead the flock in Pakistan (after a gap of 24 years), he also became the second Goan-origin cardinal to be appointed in the country.

Pakistan’s first ‘Prince of the Church’, Joseph Cordeiro, hailed from Salvador do Mundo and had “obviously been rated high at the Vatican as witnessed by the fact that he was a member of several Vatican congregations, namely, Sacred Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples: Pontifical Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue; Commission of Cardinals for Economic Affairs; and Sacred Congregation for Religious,” J Clement Vaz writes in his book ‘Profiles of Eminent Goans, Past and Present’.

Vaz goes on to add that Cordeiro “was mentioned in Time magazine as a papabile (possible pope) after the death of Pope John Paul I. They had both received the Cardinal’s hat at the same consistory in 1973.”

In fact, the first Indian cardinal, Valerian Gracias, was also of Goan origin with roots in Dramapur, Navelim. Born in Karachi, he studied at the seminary of Kandy in Sri Lanka and was ordained a priest for the Bombay archdiocese in 1926.

Cardinal Ivan Dias from Velsao, the third Goan origin bishop to be appointed cardinal was born in Mumbai. He was selected for the pope’s diplomatic service in Rome and was ordained as bishop in Rome in 1982. He was appointed pro-nuncio to Ghana, Togo and Benin in West Africa, and later to South Korea. He served as the first pro-nuncio to Albania.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, was born in Mumbai, but traces his roots to Orlim. He holds a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University and a diploma in jurisprudence from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.

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