Authorization for Reunion and Mission Achievement under Archbishop Joseph Cariattil

Initial Steps and Challenges

Following the 1780 authorization for Emmanuel of St Catherine, bishop of Cochin and administrator of Goa, to receive Mar Dionysius I into the Catholic Church, progress stalled due to various constraints. Emmanuel delegated Fr Jose da Soledade OCD, the new ecclesiastical governor of Cochin (later bishop), to handle the matter. Soledade's detailed report, sent to Bishop Emmanuel and forwarded to Propaganda Fide in February 1783, was not favorable towards Mar Dionysius I.

Ecclesiastical Appointments

With Emmanuel's appointment as Archbishop of Goa and Soledade's subsequent elevation as Bishop of Cochin, Propaganda Fide reevaluated the situation. In a 1784 meeting, they decided to entrust the task to Mar Cariattil, who had recently been appointed Archbishop of Cranganore.

Delegation of Authority to Mar Cariattil

Propaganda Fide, upon reviewing inconclusive reports from India, decided to grant Mar Cariattil similar faculties that Bishop Emmanuel had previously received. He was authorized to investigate Mar Dionysius I's sincerity, true faith, episcopal consecration, conduct, and lifestyle, and report back. Cariattil was permitted to admit Mar Dionysius I into the Catholic Church but was instructed to prohibit him from performing episcopal functions until the Holy See formally validated his consecration.

Propaganda Fide's Communication

On July 10, 1784, Propaganda Fide informed Mar Cariattil of their decision. They allowed him to admit Mar Dionysius I into the Catholic Church after a thorough verification process, including a new profession of faith according to the formula of Pope Urban VIII. The directive emphasized the prohibition of any episcopal functions by Mar Dionysius I until a formal validation from the Holy See.

With regard to this specific point the Congregation stated:

If Your Lordship verifies that his conversion is true and sincere, you can, by virtue of the extensive faculties His Holiness accords to you to this effect, admit him to the Catholic Communion after having absolved him of the irregularity and rehabilitate him in the priestly ministry. You should, however, prohibit him absolutely to perform any episcopal function whatsoever, until the Holy See would, by a formal sentence, declare his consecration true and valid.1)

Response from Padroado

Padroado authorities reacted to Propaganda Fide's decision by requesting the Archbishop of Goa to be involved in receiving Mar Dionysius I into the Church. Although this request was denied, the Archbishop of Goa was allowed to send a representative to witness Mar Dionysius I's reception into the Catholic Communion.

Partial Success of the Mission

The granting of faculties to Cariattil marked a partial fulfillment of the intense efforts made in Rome and Lisbon. Although the Holy See's provision limited Mar Dionysius I's reception to the status of a simple priest, it opened a possibility for the reunification of the St Thomas Christians. The responsibility for this task now rested with Mar Cariattil, who had to navigate within the constraints set by Propaganda Fide and collaborate with the Archbishop of Goa.

Vatican City, Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Lettere 244, f. 572r-v.
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