Kottayam (Ker), Mar 11 (PTI) Senior Bishop of the Syro Malabar Church, Joseph Powathil, 92, died on Saturday due to age-related ailments, church officials said.
He breathed his last at 1.17 pm at a private hospital at nearby Changanacherry, they said.
Powathil, Archbishop Emeritus of Changanacherry archdiocese, was the former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC).
Born on August 14, 1930, P J Joseph, after his school and College education, joined the seminary to become a priest.
After ordination in October 1962 at Pune, the priest, who was an MA Economics graduate, was appointed lecturer in Economics and Warden of St Joseph's Hostel, St Berchmans' College, Changanacherry.
In 1969, he had the advantage of taking a one year course in developmental economics at the prestigious Oxford University.
On January 29, 1972, he was nominated Auxiliary Bishop of Changanacherry and was ordained bishop by Pope Paul VI on February 13, 1972, in Rome.
He was appointed bishop on February 26, 1977, and assumed charge on May 12, 1977. Bishop Powathil was appointed Archbishop of Changanacherry on November 5, 1985 and he assumed charge on January 17 the next year.
He resigned as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Changanacherry when he reached the age of 75 on March 19, 2007.
In its website, the Church said the Syro-Malabar Church, in which he was born and brought up, has always been kept close to his heart. He has always been a devoted son of this Church, and therefore always been on the forefront in the struggles for the restoration of its legitimate rights and its identity as an Individual Church.
"Archbishop Mar Powathil has been a staunch defender of the teachings of the Magisterium. His concern for the poor, the underprivileged and the marginalized was such that he initiated a number of schemes for their development", it said.
His last rites will be performed on Wednesday at St Mary's Cathedral Church, Changancherry, church sources said.
Former CM Oommen Chandy was his student at St Berchmans' College, Changanacherry.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal and KPCC President K Sudhakaran and Oommen Chandy condoled the demise of the priest.
In his message, Vijayan said Bishop Powathil was a man of deep learning in theological subjects.
Fondly remembering his exchanges with Powathil, he said, "there were many experiences where I had to openly disagree with the priest, who was a strong anti-communist. He had no qualms about sharing his views, even when faced with strong opposition. He was always keen to make his own contributions in the field of education." PTI COR TGB TGB ROH