Pope appoints India’s first Dalit Christian cardinal
Pope Francis on Sunday appointed Archbishop of Hyderabad, Anthony Poola, as one of the two new cardinals from India. He is the first Dalit Christian in India to get the title and will be an elector for the future Pope elections.
“Poola is also the first Telugu in the history of the Catholic Church to be appointed as cardinal, the second biggest title after Pope, in the world and the first Dalit to get the position. It is an honour and recognition for the oppressed sections of Christianity,” Father S Bernard, Vicar General of Hyderabad, told HT.
Born on November 15, 1951, in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district, Bishop Poola joined the minor seminary in Kurnool and studied at St Peter’s pontifical major seminary in Bengaluru. He served as chairman of Youth Commission, AP Social Service Society, SC/BC Commission, secretary-general and treasurer of Telugu Catholic Bishops Conference.
He was ordained as a priest on February 20, 1992, at Kadapa. He was appointed Bishop of Kurnool on February 8, 2008, and was ordained as Bishop on April 19, 2008. He was the chairman of youth commission in the Andhra Pradesh Bishops’ Conference.
On November 19, 2020, he was appointed as Archbishop of Hyderabad, replacing Thumma Bala. He was installed as Archbishop on January 3, 2021. He is now elevated to the rank of Cardinal.
Bernard said Bishop Poola will now be a part of the College of Cardinals, which comprises 229 cardinals, of whom 131 are electors who elect the Pope. “He will be one among the papal electors, who will elect Pope on August 27,” he said, adding that the entire Catholic community is proud of this appointment.
Bishop Poola will also continue to head the ecclesiastical province of Hyderabad, including the dioceses of Adilabad, Cuddapah, Khammam, Kurnool, Nalgonda and Warangal.