Elevated to cardinal last October, the archbishop of Ranchi is the first tribal prelate to be introduced into the College of Cardinals. He succeeds Archbishop Cyril Baselios Malancharuvil of Trivandrum in the episcopate post.
Conference spokesman Father Babu Joseph said that 147 bishops participated in the election of the new president, which took place in the eight-day General Assembly held this year in Trichur, in the state of Kerala. The assembly ended Wednesday.
Archbishop Malancharuvil became president of the episcopate after Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi died in a car accident in Poland in June 2001.
Archbishop Malancharuvil now has been elected a vice president of the conference, together with Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trichur. They belong, respectively, to the Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar rites.
The conference comprises bishops from the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites, which together form the Catholic Church in India. The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar Churches date back to the time of the Apostle Thomas.