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Indian Archbishop becomes first tribal Cardinal

Archbishop Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi in northern India has been appointed as Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, becoming the first tribal and the ninth Indian to be elevated to the College of Cardinals in the history of the country's church.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) President Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios said: "It is a great honour for the Church in India, especially for the Church of Chhota Nagpur."

Born on October 15, 1939, Cardinal Toppo was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1969 and appointed Bishop of Dumka (Jharkhand) in 1978. He was transferred to Ranchi as Archbishop Coadjutor in 1984 and installed as Archbishop of Ranchi on August 25, 1985.

Meanwhile in the USA, the only American among the 31 cardinals appointed on Sunday described his new title as "awesome".

Justin Rigali (pictured), the St Louis Archbishop who next week takes over the helm of Philadelphia's Archdiocese, declined to discuss such successorship, saying it's "most appropriate not to comment on a future papal election while the pope is still alive."

Still, "it's very awesome to be a member of the College of Cardinals and to have the role of voting in an election," Rigali, described as a friend of Pope John Paul II, told reporters and about 80 well-wishers a day after it was announced he will get the ceremonial red hat.

Rigali had known of his promotion since last Thursday, when the man known for his quiet, conservative leadership and worldwide experience was told by a liaison in Washington, DC

"My initial reaction was that it's a great honour," he said.

Pope John Paul II announced the names of 30 new Cardinals yesterday during the customary Angelus Prayers at mid-day in the Vatican City. One Cardinal was created 'in pectore', a technical term to signify 'know only in the heart' but whose name is not made public.

The consistory or the ceremony formally commissioning the new Cardinals is scheduled to be held in the Vatican on October 21.


Scots archbishop named as cardinal-elect (The Scotsman)
Pope names new cardinals, including Canadian; will help elect his successor (CBC)
Speculation over who will succeed Pope John Paul II (ABC Radio The World Today)
Archbishop Rigali, named new cardinal, has close ties to Vatican
Pope names new cardinals (SBS)
Desmond O'Grady: New cardinals to shape papal field (The Age)
Desmond O'Grady: A new cardinal may be Pope's successor (Sydney Morning Herald)
Cardinals: 6 Religious of 31 in Next Consistory October 21 (Vidimus Dominum)
Czech Jesuit among the newly appointed Cardinals (Jesuits-Europe)
Pope chooses 31 new cardinals (Independent Catholic News)
A Look at Cardinals, Appointed by Pope (AP)
The future cardinals: a closer look (Catholic World News)
Pope names news cardinals; consistory October 21 (Catholic World News)
New Cardinals announced on 28 September 2003 (Archdiocese of Sydney)
Pope announces Pell elevation to College of Cardinals (29/9/03)

30 Sep 2003