Joseph Cariattil's Appointment as Archbishop of Cranganore

Lisbon Mission and Unexpected Nomination

Following their unsuccessful mission in Rome, Joseph Cariattil and Paremmakkal returned to Lisbon in October 1780, continuing their efforts for the Malabar Church's benefit. In a surprising turn, on July 16, 1782, Queen Francesca Maria of Portugal nominated Joseph Cariattil as the archbishop of the vacant Padroado see of Cranganore. This nomination was confirmed by Pope Pius VI on December 16, 1782. However, the papal bull mandated Cariattil's conversion to the Latin rite, prohibiting his return to the Syro-Chaldean rite.

The bull reads:

Upon the presentation of the most serene and most faithful Queen, His Holiness has made provision for the archdiocese of Cranganore in West Indies (sic), being vacant due to the death of Salvador dos Reys, its last archbishop of happy memory, died outside the Roman Curia, in the person of Rev. Joseph Cariattil, priest of Cranganore or another city or diocese and teacher of sacred theology, of recognized faith and having every virtue. His Holiness appointed him archbishop and pastor of the aforesaid Church of Cranganore, entrusting him with its pastoral care, with the indult that he can embrace the Latin rite, lawfully remain in it and receive episcopal consecration in it from a single bishop in India, assisted by two ecclesiastical dignitaries, notwithstanding any kind of eventual obligation on his part and whatever else to the contrary, and prohibiting him to return to his own native Syro-Chaldean rite and with the decision that he should take care to erect the dignities, the canonicate and the baptismal font in that holy Church as soon as possible [ … J.1)

Rationale Behind Changing Rite

Cariattil's rite was altered due to the prevailing notion that no Oriental could lead a Latin diocese or one with Latin Christians. The archdiocese of Cranganore, under Portuguese patronage, was considered a Latin diocese. The presence of Latin Christians in the archdiocese further complicated the matter.

Motivations for Cariattil's Nomination

The appointment of Cariattil as the archbishop appears strategically motivated by Portugal's desire to counter the influence of Propaganda missionaries in Kerala. This move was seen as an assertion of Padroado's superiority in Malabar.

Episcopal Consecration and Challenges

On February 17, 1783, Cariattil was consecrated bishop in Lisbon and received the sacred pallium on March 17 of the same year. However, his return to Malabar faced delays due to concerns that his appointment might adversely affect both Propaganda missionaries and Portuguese interests. These concerns were fueled by negative reports from missionaries in India and other Portuguese authorities.

Delay in Return to Malabar

Paremmakkal noted the reluctance of Portuguese authorities to send Cariattil back to Malabar, fearing the potential unification of all St Thomas Christians under a native bishop. Despite this, the decision to send him back was eventually made, considering the antagonism of the St Thomas Christians towards the missionaries in Malabar and to avoid further diplomatic complications.

Regarding this delay Paremmakkal stated:

It is publicly known to all that all the Portuguese, especially Martin de Mel, the minister for India, venomously hate these (Propaganda) missionaries who try to uproot their power in India. Again, it was precisely to uproot the (Propaganda) missionaries from Malabar that our archbishop was consecrated. But after this, the minister mentioned above and many among the important persons in Lisbon understood that by this one act that they had undertaken to uproot the (Propaganda) missionaries from Malabar, all the Europeans would be uprooted from thei;e. They were led to this conclusion by the words of many Europeans in Lisbon who ruled over India, and by the letters written against us with one mind by the missionaries from India and by the other Portuguese Padres. So, the minister mentioned above and many of the important persons in Lisbon repented of what they had done. But they also realized that it would be a disgrace and dishonour for them if they detained the archbishop in Lisbon without sending him to Malabar. They, therefore, by general consent, decided that he was to be sent to Malabar by all means.2)
Vatican City, Vatican Apostolic Archives, Acta Camerari Sacri Collegi S.RE. Cardinalium, 39, f. 238v.
The Varthamanappusthakam, 281; see also pages 237-238.
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