Joseph Powathil

Joseph Powathil (born 14 August 1929) is an Indian prelate of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. He is the Archbishop Emeritus of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Changanassery.[1]

Joseph Powathil
Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Archeparchy of Changanacherry
Mar George Alenchery New Major Archbishop and Mar Powathil.jpg
Mar Joseph Powathil with Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry
DioceseArcheparchy of Changanacherry
PredecessorAntony Padiyara
SuccessorJoseph Perumthottam
Other post(s)former chairman, Inter-church Council of Kerala
Ordination3 October 1962
Consecration13 February 1972
Personal details
(1929-08-14) 14 August 1929 (age 93)
Kurumpanadom, British India
ResidenceArchbishop's House, Changanacherry
ParentsUlahannan Joseph, Mariamma
Alma materSt. Berchman's High School

Early lifeEdit

Powathil was born in the hamlet of Kurumbanadom, near Chanaganacherry, British India. He was known as Pappachan in his childhood, and was officially known as P. J. Joseph. He went to school at Holy Family LP School and St. Peter's UP School, and then at St. Berchmans’ High School in Changanacherry. He attended St. Berchmans' College, Changanacherry for a B.A. Economics and Loyola College, Chennai from which he received an M.A. in economics.[2]

Priestly ministryEdit

Powathil did his seminary studies in St. Thomas Seminary Changanacherry and Papal Seminary Pune. He was ordained priest on 3 October 1962.[1] He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Changanacherry (Titular Bishop of Caesarea Philippi) on 29 January 1972, despite having little Episcopal experience, and was consecrated by Pope Paul VI on 13 February 1972.[1] On 26 February 1977, a new diocese was created under the name Kanjirappally, splitting the Changanacherry archdiocese. Bishop Powathil was transferred there as the first bishop. He served the new diocese for nine years. He rose to become archbishop and returned to Changanacherry on 16 November 1985, succeeding Mar Antony Padiyara.

As the Archbishop of Changanacherry, Powathil pushed for the restoration of East Syriac traditions in the Syro-Malabar Church. He fought for the complete revival of the Divine Liturgy that was Latinised after the Synod of Diamper1599, although it was partially revived after Vatican II. These efforts got him several critics even among his fellow bishops, alleging that what he espoused amounted to adoption of Church of the East practices.[3] On 22 January 2007, Powathil resigned in conformity with Canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. On the same day, it was announced that Auxiliary Bishop of Changanacherry, Mar Joseph Perumthottam, would succeed Powathil in the office as the Archbishop of Changanacherry.

Offices heldEdit

He served as President of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) (1994–1998), Chairman of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (1993–1996), and Chairman of Education Commission of the CBCI. He has been a member of the Post Asian Synodal Council in Rome, Italy since 1998, Chairman of KCBC Commission for Education (since 1986), Founder and Chairman of Inter Church Council for Education, Chairman of Inter Religious Fellowship, member of the Pro Oriente Foundation in Vienna, Austria (since 1993) and member of the Scientific Commission of International Publication ‘Oasis’ in Venice, Italy.


He founded the Peerumedu Development Society (P.D.S) and the Malanadu Development Society (M. D. S) in 1977 while he was the bishop of Kanjirappaly. The Kuttanadu Vikasana Samithy (KVS) is another project of his. As the Patron of the Changanacherry Social Service Society (CHASS), he oversaw numerous developmental schemes. Many Scholarship schemes are established for the Dalit Christians in the Archdiocese and the poor and eligible students of the professional courses.

In 1990, Powathil founded the I. C. Chacko award for cultural and literary excellence and it was awarded to Prof. P. C. Devasia, the author of Kristu Bhagavathom in Sanskrit language. The Centre for Indian Christian Archaeological Research (CICAR) is another initiative. In order to promote reading, Powathil established the Department of Book Apostolate, which organizes the Changanacherry Pusthaka Mela every year in October.

He established the Diocesan Youth Movement called ‘Yuvadeepti’ in 1972. It eventually turned into the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM). He was the first chairman of the KCBC Youth Commission. He started Apostolate for the senior citizens, apostolate for the emigrants and apostolate for the tourists in the Archdiocese. He led CANA, the Indian Section of the Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, at Thuruthy with headquarters in Rome.


  1. ^ a b c "Archbishop Joseph Powathil [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Syro Malabar Church Bishop ::Mar Joseph Powathil Metropolitan Emeritus of Changanacherry ::Changanacherry Archeparchy". Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Rediff On The NeT: Kerala faction war may split the Church". Retrieved 25 March 2020.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
None (New Diocese)
Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Kanjirappally
Succeeded by
Mar Mathew Vattakuzhy
Preceded by Metropolitan of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Changanassery
Succeeded by